Breaking news from the Netherlands. Dutch biggest newspaper calls it the trial of the century (NL), because the government today, September 12th, announced it is going to trial Geert Wilders on January 20th (See also: the earlier court ruling that made it possible). The timing is remarkable, because it’s just before the municipality elections, a busy time for the politician.
Busy or not, Geert Wilders will have to defend him self in criminal court for speaking out against Islam. The charges brought against him are: racism and hate mongering (no actual hate crimes have ever been connected to him, his political movement or his speeches).
Renowned criminal trial lawyer Bram Moszkowicz will represent him during the trial. It’s still unknown what his defence will look like. But in today’s paper Wilders says he might call radical Imams and other idiots to the stand in support of his defence.
“I find it horrible that I’m prosecuted” says Wilders. “This is a political trial and it’s sad that I'm prosecuted as a criminal for only voicing my political opinions. I hope free speech will prevail. [But] I am convinced that the trial can only lead to my acquittal”.
The trial might even gain him some extra votes. After all, he can be easily perceived as the political underdog, speaking up against a powerful, but very corrupt, Dutch political elite. But Wilders says he does not care for extra votes: “This will cost me a lot of time and energy. This is not a [just a regular] debate. Here my neck is on the line. I much rather didn't have this trial and have 5 parliamentary seats less in the polls. I don’t want to be a suspect” in a criminal trial.
His lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz says he want to call “internationally renowned free speech specialist” to the stand. A logical move, if you perceive this trial as one of the most import trials against free speech in Europe and the rest of the Western world.
Or will 2010 be the year in which speaking out against Islam makes you a criminal?