February 3 2011
The ongoing trial of MP and Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders may be delayed. The anti-Islam politician is on trial for charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims. Initially the Public Prosecutor’s Office declined to prosecute Wilders for his anti-Islamic statements. When a number of minority organizations complained, the court supported them and ordered the Public Prosecutor’s office to prepare a case, which subsequently collapsed due to irregularities involving judges. The trial was set to resume on Monday, however a lawyer representing groups opposing Wilders has gone to the appeal court to object to the behavior of the Prosecution Department which called for Wilders’ acquittal. Speaking in reaction to a media report, he commented: “the public prosecutor cannot take the position that Mr. Wilders is not liable to punishment.”
The Dutch Public Prosecution Department has announced that Geert Wilders and TV program Nova will not be prosecuted for publishing controversial Danish cartoons online. The 12 cartoons depicting Mohammad led to worldwide unrest when published in a Danish newspaper in 2006. The department determined that because the reproduced cartoons target Mohammad and not Muslims in general, they “do not insult Muslims nor incite hatred” and their reproduction is not punishable by law.
However the department will prosecute the pro-Arab Arabische Europese Liga unless it removes a cartoon depicting two Jews inventing the holocaust from its website. That cartoon does ‘insult Jews because of their race and/or religion’ because it implies Jews themselves invented the idea that six million were killed during World War II, the department said. Although the website removed the cartoons earlier, they have since republished them, as chairman Abdoulmouthalib Bouzerda claims that the prosecutor’s office is applying double standards. He adds that “given the decision not to interpret the Muhammad cartoon as offensive to Muslims, the decision that the publication of the AEL carton is liable to prosecution is incomprehensible”.