Dutch politician Geert Wilders has been acquitted of the hate crime charges brought against him for comments he made about Islam.
Mr Wilders, who was facing five counts of inciting hatred against Muslims, has welcomed the court’s decision as a victory for “freedom of expression”.
The populist politician is widely known for his strong rhetoric having previously described Islam as “fascist”, and compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
But now a Dutch court has ruled that while Mr Wilders’ rhetoric was “on the edge of what is legally permissible” it was not illegal.
Judge Marcel Van Oosten said: “The bench finds that your statements are acceptable within the context of the public debate”.
Mr Wilders has always maintained that he is targeting Islam not individual Muslims.
Speaking outside of the courtroom Mr Wilders said: “I’m incredibly happy with this acquittal on all counts.
“It’s not only an acquittal for me, but a victory for freedom of expression in the Netherlands.
“Fortunately you’re allowed to discuss Islam in public debate and you’re not muzzled in public debate.”
The Dutchman is the leader of the Freedom Party, the third largest party in the Dutch parliament, which supports the Dutch government without being in the ruling coalition.
Mr Wilders initially went on trial for inciting hatred and discrimination last year, but the trial collapsed after the judges were deemed to be biased against the politician.
A new panel of judges was subsequently convened.