A Dutch court has commanded prosecutors to put Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders on trial for making anti-Islamic statements. Mr. Wilders has in the past made disparaging comments about Islam; likening it to Nazism, and comparing the Koran to 'Mein Kampf' which was Adolf Hitler's ode to himself. Mr. Wilders has also recently made a movie titled 'Fitna' (which is a term taken from the Koran which translates as "strife"), where he implied that practicing Islam leads to violence. In the film he shows clips and pictures of terrorist attacks (committed by Muslims), rallies, protests, and marches (where Muslim followers are shown holding signs like "God bless Hitler" and "Freedom go to Hell"). Mr. Wilders has also been under police protection since 2004 when a fellow Dutch anti-Islamist (Film director Theo Van Gogh) was murdered by a fanatical Muslim terrorist.
For these "crimes" Mr. Wilders is being put on trial for inciting hatred and discrimination.
The Court said "In a democratic system, hate speech is considered so serious that it is in the general interest to... draw a clear line." Mr. Wilders response, "Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted."
The travesty here is that this is a blatant attack on free speech in a democratic society. Free Speech is paramount in a democratic society...that is what the court should have decided. There can be no freedom within a society where the people fear prosecution for their thoughts, beliefs, and statements. Nowhere does Mr. Wilders use his speech to purposefully incite violence against Muslims, though the fanatical sects that create terrorist factories do. Nowhere does he condone violence against Muslims, though the same groups that order fatwa's on men like him, do.
If freedom of speech can be subverted then very quickly freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion can also be assaulted.
(Here is a solid running commentary from Gates of Vienna.)