A Dutch MP who compares the Koran with Mein Kampf and says there is a direct link between Islam and violence will be tried for hate crimes, a Dutch court has ruled.
In June last year, Holland’s public prosecution department said there was not enough evidence to take action against Geert Wilders MP, leader of the Freedom Party.
The department also said that a healthy legal system should allow plenty of leeway to people involved in political debate.
But that decision has been overturned on appeal. The Amsterdam appeal court said that while freedom of speech is important, there are limits to that freedom.
Last year Mr Wilders made a controversial film, Fitna, which juxtaposed images of the September 11th attacks with quotations from the Koran. The film is banned in the UK.
He has also been criticised for writing anti-Islamic articles and letters which were published in a mainstream Dutch newspaper, de Volkskrant.
In August 2007 Mr Wilders called for the Koran to be banned. He also favours immigration restrictions to stop more Muslims entering the Netherlands.
Mr Wilders has had police protection since 2004 when Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh was murdered by a radical Muslim who left Koranic quotes stabbed into his chest.
His co-producer on the project, Somali-born former Dutch lawmaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali, lived under government protection for several years after van Gogh’s killing. She now lives in the United States.
Commenting on the appeal court decision Mr Wilders warned that not only he, but all Dutch citizens opposed to the “Islamisation” of their country would be on trial.
“This is a black day for me and for freedom of speech,” Mr Wilders told Dutch journalists yesterday. “I had not expected it.”
In a statement, the appeal court said it had “ordered the prosecution of member of parliament Geert Wilders for inciting hatred and discrimination, based on comments by him in various media on Muslims and their beliefs”.
It added: “The court also considers appropriate criminal prosecution for insulting Muslim worshippers because of comparisons between Islam and Nazism made by Wilders.”
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.”