Amsterdam, June 24: A Dutch court has acquitted right-wing politician Geert Wilders of charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims.
The court in Amsterdam said that although his comments offended some Muslims, it stressed that they fell within the bounds of legitimate political debate, the Daily Mail reports.
Wilders, who was once banned from visiting Britain, claims that Islam is violent in nature, and therefore the Koran should be banned and Muslim immigration should be halted.
However, court judge Marcel van Oosten ruled that Wilders’ public statement could not be directly linked to increased discrimination against Dutch Muslims, and that they must be viewed in a wider context of debate over the immigration policy.
Wilders, who had claimed the charges against him were politically motivated, said that the judgement has removed an ‘enormous burden’ from his shoulders.
“I’m incredibly happy with this acquittal on all counts. It’s not only an acquittal for me, but a victory for freedom of expression in the Netherlands,” the paper quoted Wilders, one of the most popular politicians in the Netherlands, as saying outside the court.
“Fortunately, you’re allowed to discuss Islam in public debate and you’re not muzzled in public debate. An enormous burden has fallen from my shoulders,” he added.
Wilders was accused of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims through numerous public statements, and with insulting them by comparing Islam with Nazism. (ANI)