Dutch MP’s bid to halt hate crime trial fails

A controversial Dutch MP has lost a legal attempt to halt a pending hate crime prosecution against him.

Geert Wilders will now face trial for inciting hatred against Muslims after a Dutch court described his challenge as “inadmissible”.

While leaving court on Wednesday Mr Wilders said: “Freedom of speech is under pressure. The legal system in North Korea is better than in the Netherlands.”

Despite the controversy Mr Wilders, the leader of the Freedom Party, is one of Holland’s most popular politicians.

Mr Wilders is the maker of the 17-minute anti-Koran movie, Fitna, which features quotations from the Koran interspersed with footage of terrorist atrocities and speeches by Muslim preachers.

The controversial MP has also been criticised for writing anti-Islamic articles and letters which were later published in a mainstream Dutch newspaper.

While in August 2007 Mr Wilders called for the Koran to be banned.

However, Mr Wilders has always maintained that he is targeting Islam not individual Muslims.

Last year Mr Wilders was at the heart of an international row over freedom of speech when he was denied entry to the UK.

The then Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, was accused of undermining free speech and of ‘appeasing’ religious extremists by blocking the Dutch politician’s visit.

Mr Wilders was travelling to the UK to attend a screening of Fitna in Parliament when he was detained at Heathrow airport.

He had been invited to screen the movie by Lord Pearson of Rannoch, a member of the House of Lords, who described the incident as a “matter of free speech”.

Mr Wilders’ ban on entering the UK was overturned on appeal last October.

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