| ||The BBC reports on the acquittal of Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, on charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.|
From the BBC:
"Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders has been acquitted of charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.
“Mr Wilders had described Islam as "fascist", comparing the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf.
“He insisted his statements were directed at Islam and not at Muslim believers - something which is legal under Dutch law.
“Judge Marcel van Oosten told him his statements were "acceptable within the context of public debate".
"The bench finds that although gross and degenerating, it did not give rise to hatred," he said.
The verdict was greeted with applause from Mr Wilders' supporters in the public gallery.
Outside the courtroom, the 47-year-old politician said he was "incredibly happy" with the verdict.
"It's not only an acquittal for me, but a victory for freedom of expression in the Netherlands," he said.
“Members of minority groups who initiated the case had told the trial that Mr Wilders' comments had led to a rise in discrimination and violence against Muslims.
“Plaintiffs had been seeking a symbolic one-euro fine. Before the court verdict, they had said they would consider taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights.”
Wilders’ argument that his statements were “directed at Islam and not at Muslim believers” is much like the Nick Griffin’s claim that “I’m not anti-Muslim, I’m anti-Islam”.
One has to ask, as those who initiated proceedings against Mr Wilders have, that when such comments have led to a rise in discrimination and violence against Muslims, what’s the difference?
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