23 June 2011
Geert Wilders, head of the anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) has been found not guilty of charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims and non-western immigrants. The court ruled that Wilders’ statements and his 17 minute movie ‘Fitna’ were ‘on the edge’ but ultimately did not incite hatred. Wilders responded enthusiastically to the verdict. Initial coverage reports that reactions to the verdict are ‘primarily positive’.
The national elections on June 9 saw major gains for the Netherland’s anti-immigration, anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV). Led by provocative politician Geert Wilders, the party finished the vote as the third largest party with 24 parliamentary seats, the most dramatic gain of any party. Wilders claims that the total seats means that 1.5 million Dutch voted for his party, saying “More security, less immigration and less Islam is what the Netherlands voted for.”
While Wilders is known for his hardline anti-immigration stance and is currently facing charges for inciting hatred in statements about the country’s Muslim population, the election issues had focused on economic issues including home ownership and the euro debt crisis. News coverage considers the shock of the right wing success and provides overviews of the anti-Islam platform and Wilders’ provocative antics, including new attention for his 2008 movie Fitna. The position of the PVV in the new government remains to be determined, as the country now faces a complex post-election coalition negotiation.
The Netherlands’ anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) faced embarrassment this week after learning that a prospective MP nominated by the party has defended a radical imam. Lilian Heider defended imam Imraan Kariman in 2007 for an inflammatory speech leading to a ban on his public speaking. Geert Wilders, leader of the PVV, called at the time of the speech case for the Imam to be deported.