Dutch MP Behind Film on Radical Islam: Decision to Prosecute Me Is Political

Cnaan Liphshitz, Haaretz, January 23, 2009

Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, the director of a controversial film on radical Islam, says the decision by the Amsterdam Court of Appeals on Wednesday to prosecute him for allegedly inciting hatred against Muslims was strictly political.

“It puts hundreds of thousands of Dutchmen on trial for opposing Islam’s violent messages,” the MP told Haaretz on Thursday.

Wilders, a controversial rightist politician and head of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom, will be prosecuted for the alleged offense–which he denies–with connection to a short film he made last year linking the Koran to violence against Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The 14-minute film, which turned the already-famous Wilders into an internationally known figure, mostly features archive footage of hate speeches by Muslim clerics, one of whom was calling for the “beheading of all Jews.”

The film, which aims to present “the violent nature of Islam,” as Wilders defines it, also urges Muslims to “tear out” violent passages from the Koran and equates fanatical Islam to Nazism.

In the interview on Thursday, Wilders maintained that his film, entitled Fitna, is within the boundaries of Dutch law and freedom of expression. “I consulted numerous legal authorities before releasing the film,” he stressed.

He added: “Things are not looking good for me. In its 33-page ruling ordering my prosecution, the appeals court already determined I was guilty. Now the case will be reviewed by a lower court and there’s every chance the judge will align his ruling with the appeals courts.”

Later in the conversation he said: “I hope this thing doesn’t end behind bars.” As Wilders has not yet been charged, the maximum penalty for the alleged transgressions remains unclear.

If Wilders appeals a future conviction, his appeal will be heard before the same court which ordered his prosecution.

Before the Court of Appeals ordered to prosecute Wilders, Amsterdam’s chief public prosecutor, Leo de Wit, said last month that no case will be brought against Wilders in the Netherlands.

But Wilders, whose party holds nine seats in parliament, is also being prosecuted in absentia in Jordan for “blasphemy and contempt of Muslims” because of the film.

During a visit last month to Jerusalem for an international anti-Jihad conference, Wilders spoke about the charges pending against him back home. “Luckily, the Dutch legal system is different to Jordan’s,” he told Haaretz then. On Thursday, he ironically noted that “the Jordanians can now be satisfied with themselves.”

The trial, which sets the stage for a high-profile affair likely to expose changing attitudes towards Islam in Europe, is also expected to center around public comparisons which Wilders drew in Dutch media between the Koran and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

[Editor’s Note: “Fitna” can be viewed here.]


Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, the director of a controversial film on radical Islam, says the decision by the Amsterdam Court of Appeals on Wednesday to prosecute him for allegedly inciting hatred against Muslims was strictly political.

“It puts hundreds of thousands of Dutchmen on trial for opposing Islam’s violent messages,” the MP told Haaretz on Thursday.

Wilders, a controversial rightist politician and head of the Netherlands’ Party for Freedom, will be prosecuted for the alleged offense–which he denies–with connection to a short film he made last year linking the Koran to violence against Jews, Christians and Muslims.

The 14-minute film, which turned the already-famous Wilders into an internationally known figure, mostly features archive footage of hate speeches by Muslim clerics, one of whom was calling for the “beheading of all Jews.”

The film, which aims to present “the violent nature of Islam,” as Wilders defines it, also urges Muslims to “tear out” violent passages from the Koran and equates fanatical Islam to Nazism.

In the interview on Thursday, Wilders maintained that his film, entitled Fitna, is within the boundaries of Dutch law and freedom of expression. “I consulted numerous legal authorities before releasing the film,” he stressed.

He added: “Things are not looking good for me. In its 33-page ruling ordering my prosecution, the appeals court already determined I was guilty. Now the case will be reviewed by a lower court and there’s every chance the judge will align his ruling with the appeals courts.”

Later in the conversation he said: “I hope this thing doesn’t end behind bars.” As Wilders has not yet been charged, the maximum penalty for the alleged transgressions remains unclear.

If Wilders appeals a future conviction, his appeal will be heard before the same court which ordered his prosecution.

Before the Court of Appeals ordered to prosecute Wilders, Amsterdam’s chief public prosecutor, Leo de Wit, said last month that no case will be brought against Wilders in the Netherlands.

But Wilders, whose party holds nine seats in parliament, is also being prosecuted in absentia in Jordan for “blasphemy and contempt of Muslims” because of the film.

During a visit last month to Jerusalem for an international anti-Jihad conference, Wilders spoke about the charges pending against him back home. “Luckily, the Dutch legal system is different to Jordan’s,” he told Haaretz then. On Thursday, he ironically noted that “the Jordanians can now be satisfied with themselves.”

The trial, which sets the stage for a high-profile affair likely to expose changing attitudes towards Islam in Europe, is also expected to center around public comparisons which Wilders drew in Dutch media between the Koran and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

[Editor’s Note: “Fitna” can be viewed here.]

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