Far-right lawmaker and filmmaker Geert Wilders has lost a legal bid to stop his pending trial for inciting hatred ad discrimination against Muslims. “The Attorney-General is of the opinion that there are no grounds” for a further appeal, the Dutch Supreme Court said in a statement. Lawyers for Wilders sought to overturn a ruling but the Amsterdam appeals court that he should be prosecuted for a series of public anti-Muslim sentiments – and in particular, for comparing Islam to Nazism. The appeals court judgment followed numerous complaints form citizens over the prosecution service’s initial refusal to press charges against Wilders. Wilder, 45, is the maker of a 17-minute film, Fitna, which has been called “offensively anti-Islamic” by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.
The Spanish Supreme Court overturned convictions against 15 of the 20 men accused of forming an Islamist group plotting to blow up Madrid’s High Court. The ruling found “non-existent the crime of conspiracy to commit a deadly terrorist attack.” Convictions for five of the men were upheld. Thirty suspects were originally arrested four years ago, most of whom were from Algeria and Morocco.
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A Spanish court overturned the convictions of four people who had been found guilty in connection with the 2005 Madrid bombings. The court overturned a ruling from last year, which found three guilty of being members of an Islamist cell that carried out the attacks. All four of the men were among 21 people convicted in 2007, of being inspired by – but not directed by, Al Qaeda. Relatives of victims said they were baffled by the Supreme Court’s decision. However, the court cited that there was insufficient evidence in the cases of the four.
Famed Princeton Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis drew a standing ovation from a packed house of conservative luminaries Wednesday night in a lecture that described Muslim migration to Europe as an Islamic attack on the West and defended the Crusades as a late, limited and unsuccessful imitation of the jihad that spread Islam across much of the globe. Lewis gave the nearly hour-long speech at the annual black-tie dinner of the American Enterprise Institute after receiving the group’s Irving Kristol Award. Among the attendees were Vice President Dick Cheney, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton and ex-Pentagon official Richard Perle. Notably absent was I. Lewis Scooter Libby, convicted this week of perjury and obstruction of justice. At last year’s event, Libby, then under indictment, received considerable support from attendees. The 90-year-old Lewis, seen by some as the intellectual godfather behind the administration’s decision to invade Iraq, warned in his lecture that the West – particularly Europe – was losing its fervor and conviction in the face of an epochal challenge from the Islamic world. The Islamic world, he said, was now attacking the West using two tactics: terrorism and migration. He listed ideological fervor and demography as two of the chief strengths that the Muslim world had in its favor in its face off against the West, but fell short of offering any prescriptions for what Europe should do to stem the flow of immigrants from North Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. Lewis, author of The Arabs in History and Islam and the West, among many other books, also gave a ringing endorsement for the ill-fated Crusades, which spanned two centuries starting in 1095, when various European armies tried to regain the Holy Land for Christendom. -Neil King Jr. CORRECTION: Bernard Lewis called the Crusades a late, limited and unsuccessful imitation of the jihad, not a successful imitation as incorrectly described in the original post. In the AEI speech, he made the point that the Crusades, as atrocious as they were, were nonetheless an understandable response to the Islamic onslaught of the preceding centuries, and that it was ridiculous to apologize for them. The more central point to his speech was that Europe in particular is now losing its conviction in facing off against Islamic extremism and migration.
On February 22 the Supreme Court decided in favor of a school that had expelled a 12-year-old Muslim student who exercized her right to wear the niqab, the full face veil, during class. In other news, in the trial of those accused of the July 21, 2005 attacks in London, a surveillance video showed that one of them was disguised, hidden in an islamic robe.
PHOENIX: The Arizona state Supreme Court ruled on Friday a Tucson newspaper could not be held liable for publishing a letter that urged people to kill Muslims to retaliate for the death of American soldiers in Iraq. In a 5-0 ruling, Arizona’s highest court found unanimously the Tucson Citizen was protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution and could not be sued for printing the letter in December 2003. The opinion reversed a lower court judge. The court stated the letter to the editor does not fall within one of the well-recognised exceptions to the general rule of First Amendment protection for political speech. It ordered the case be sent back to Pima County Superior Court and dismissed without the chance to be refiled. Michael Chihak, the Citizen’s editor and publisher, said the ruling vindicated the paper’s decision and could have broader ramifications for others. It is obviously a favourable ruling for us, and not just for us, but for the First Amendment, he said. If the ruling had been unfavourable, it may have led people to curb expressions of their thoughts, opinions and feelings rather than adding to the public dialogue. Herb Beigel, a lawyer for the two Tucson men who filed the lawsuit said he was disappointed by the ruling and had not yet decided whether to appeal the case to the US Supreme Court. Beigel condemned the decision as giving the press protection that is far broader than the US Supreme Court has ruled in the past, and said a deeper investigation into the facts of the case was needed before a decision was rendered. The lawsuit, filed by Aly W Elleithee and Wali Yudeen S Abdul Rahim, stemmed from a three-paragraph letter in the Citizen that called for quick retaliation for soldiers’ deaths. Whenever there is an assassination or another atrocity, we should proceed to the closest mosque and execute five of the first Muslims we encounter, the letter said. After all, this is a _Holy War and although such a procedure is not fair or just, it might end the horror.
Some of the figures involved in the Supreme Court’s review Wednesday of cases that deal with individual rights and liberties in a time of terrorism and war: