A Dutch court has ruled that an anti-Islam activist did not break the law by displaying a poster which said “stop the tumour that is Islam”.
The man, from Valkenswaard, was facing charges of insulting a group on the basis of religion – a crime under Dutch law.
However, the high court said it is not a crime to express insults towards religion unless the core beliefs of a religious group collectively are attacked.
The judge in this case ruled the poster was criticising an extremist brand of Islam and thus not liable for prosecution.
The poster was hung in response to the 2004 murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim extremist.
It read: “Stop the tumour that is Islam. Theo has died for us. Who will be next? Resist now! National Alliance, we will not bow down to Allah. Join now.”
The National Alliance is a rightwing political movement in the Netherlands.
The charge from which the man was acquitted is similar to one of the charges faced by Geert Wilders, the Dutch anti-Islam MP who was recently refused entry into Britain.
Mr Wilders welcomed the latest ruling, saying “this could have consequences for my case”.
A Dutch court has ruled that Mr Wilders, who compares the Koran with Mein Kampf and says there is a direct link between Islam and violence, will be tried for hate crimes.
The British ‘religio-political’ blog, Cranmer, commented: “Mr Wilders is simply of the view that in 1945, Nazism was defeated in Europe; in 1989, communism was defeated in Europe; and now Islamic ideology has to be defeated.”
Last year Mr Wilders made a controversial film, Fitna, which juxtaposed images of the September 11th attacks with quotations from the Koran.
Mr Wilders found himself at the centre of an international free speech row when he was held at London’s Heathrow airport last month before being sent back to Holland after the home secretary deemed his presence in the UK as a security risk.
It was revealed this month that Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party is now Holland’s most popular party, moving ahead of the Christian Democrats.
It is thought the global media coverage of Britain’s decision to ban the Dutch MP over his anti-Islam beliefs has helped contribute to his party’s surge in opinion polls.