The following was written by Babs Barron, first published on Faith Freedom International:
Definition - show trial - a trial held for show; the guilt of the accused person has been decided in advance.
Geert Wilders is a Dutch politician who is outspoken about the influence of Islam in Dutch society, a point of view which has attracted much support there as well as opprobrium.
Wilders has campaigned to stop the "Islamisation" of Holland. He compares the Qu'ran with Mein Kampf in terms of the violence it advocates against Jews and other non-Muslims who refuse to convert to Islam, and has campaigned to have the book banned in Holland. Even more contentiously, he advocates ending immigration from Muslim countries, and supports banning the construction of new mosques. He was a speaker at the "Facing Jihad" Conference, in Jerusalem in 2008, which discussed the dangers of jihad, and has called for a hard line against what he called the "street terror" exerted by minorities in Dutch cities. His controversial 2008 film about his views on Islam, Fitna, received international attention and placed his life in danger from Islamists.
Wilders has been quoted as saying about Islam, and the reader will note the distinction made between Islam as an ideological system and Muslim people:
"Islam is not a religion, it's an ideology, the ideology of a retarded culture. I have a problem with Islamic tradition, culture, ideology. Not with Muslim people."
And about the Qu'ran:
"The Koran (sic) is a fascist book which incites violence. That is why this book, just like [Adolf Hitler's] Mein Kampf, must be banned. The book incites hatred and killing and therefore has no place in our [Dutch] legal order."
He is not alone in his perception of and conclusions about the Qu'ran. Dr Wafa Sultan, in her book "A God Who Hates" writes:
"…God, as described in the Koran…is highly strung, violent by temperament, lacking in foresight, capricious, fearful of being disobeyed or gainsaid. His fear is reflected in the nature of his commands, and he attacks without mercy and avenges himself evilly upon those who rebel against him …." (p174)
Elsewhere in the book she takes the longest chapter of the Qu'ran ("The Cow" 2:1 – 286) and points out that kill and its derivatives appears at least twenty-five times in a chapter which is no more than fifty pages long.
The difference between the circumstances of Dr Sultan and those of Geert Wilders is that Sultan lives in the USA, where freedom of expression is still prized, whereas Wilders lives in a country where Islam has been allowed to make its presence felt in a combative, threatening way. Dutch laws cannot, will not protect him from the threats against his life because he spoke out against the influence of Islam in Holland but allows those who threaten him to walk free. The Dutch record in that regard is woeful:
Pym Fortuyn, Wilders' friend and a fellow politician, was murdered for expressing negative views about Islam, as was Theo Van Gogh, another friend of Wilders, who made a film about the treatment of women in Islam. Mohammed Bouyeri shot Van Gogh eight times as he was cycling to work in the early morning of 2 November 2004, and Van Gogh died on the spot. He also tried to decapitate him with one knife and stabbed him in the chest with another. The two knives were left implanted; one attached a five-page note to his body. The note (translated at the link) threatened Western countries, Jews and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (who went into hiding). It also referred to the ideologies of the Egyptian organization Takfir wal-Hijra.
Dutch prosecutors, as far back as June 2008, had initially refused to bring charges against Wilders, arguing that he was protected by the right to freedom of speech and that he had spoken out not against Muslims per se, but against the threat to Dutch society posed by the growing assertiveness of Islam in Dutch political and social life. Nevertheless on 4th October 2010, Wilders went on trial in Amsterdam charged with "sowing hatred" after an Appeals Court ruling. The nonsensical nature of such a trial on such a charge was pointed up by Soern Kern.
That first trial unexpectedly collapsed in disarray on its final scheduled day of hearings after Dutch newspapers reported that Tom Schalken, one of the judges who had ordered Wilders to stand trial, had dinner with Hans Jansen, a leading Dutch expert on Islam who also happened to be a defense witness. Jansen said that Schalken had improperly tried "to convince me of the correctness of the decision to take Wilders to court." (An English-language translation of Jansen's accusations can be found here.)
After the allegations about Judge Schalken's behaviour came to light, Wilders' counsel asked the court to summon Jansen so that he could be questioned and cross-examined, but the court refused. In response, Wilders' counsel formally protested that the judges were biased against the defendant and should be dismissed; he also called Schalken's contact with Jansen "scandalous."
A separate review panel was then convened to consider the complaint, which it upheld by ordering a retrial with new judges. Judge G. Marcus said the panel understood Wilders' "fear that the court's decision displays a degree of bias ... and under those circumstances accepts the appeal." At the time, Wilders — who had called the trial a farce, a disgrace and an assault on free speech — welcomed the decision, saying: "This gives me a new chance with a new fair trial."
At the same time the prosecution renewed their requests for the case to be dropped. In spite of this, however, on 23rd May 2011 presiding judge Marcel van Oosten refused their requests saying Wilders' "right to presumption of innocence had not been violated."
The trial proceeded smoothly from then on, although natural justice and proper procedures had been and were still being circumvented or ignored, see below 1. Finally on 1st June 2011 Wilders made his final speech to the court.
The court's verdict is awaited shortly. Given the three ring circus aspect of the trial, Wilders may well be found guilty and if so could face prison and a large fine. The implications of a guilty verdict for freedom of speech and thought in Holland and elsewhere in Europe and the West are almost too dire to contemplate. The conduct of this case from beginning to end offers yet more evidence, if evidence is needed, of the double standards which obtain in the West about Islam, where a supremacist ideology is allowed to engage in hate speech and violence almost without let or hindrance just because it feels that it is not sufficiently respected, and yet is allowed to stifle disagreement by using the protection of Western democratic process, which it openly rejects, to defend itself against the consequences of what it has said and how it behaves.
Wilders' counsel was not allowed to cross examine Hans Jensen, a Dutch expert on Islam, about his allegation that he had been approached by one of the trial judges, Tom Schalken, and about other aspects of the trial which had discussed, actions which were in themselves inappropriate.
Also at that first trial, before the judges were finally replaced because of Schalken's inappropriate behaviour, Wilders' counsel had requested that they be removed and announced that Wilders would maintain his right to silence throughout the trial unless they were. Jan Moors, the then presiding judge then noted that Wilders had been accused of being "good in taking a stand and then avoiding a discussion" of the issue. "By remaining silent, it seems you're doing that today as well," he said. The judge had no right to voice such an opinion.
Wilders' counsel requested 18 witnesses in his defence. These witnesses fell into three categories: renowned legal experts on freedom of speech; experts on Islamic ideology; and jihadist “experiential experts,” such as the killer of Theo van Gogh. The first category of witnesses would argue that harsh critique or rejection of a religious group by a politician is legal, as long as there is a factual basis and a public interest in the things he says. The second category of experts would state that the Koran and Islam form a violent and totalitarian ideology. The third group of witnesses would testify they observe Islamic law by practicing jihad. The court rejected all but three of the eighteen, including the entire third group, (of which one was to have been Mohammed Bouyerie, the convicted murderer of Theo Van Gogh). The testimony of those accepted, which included Dr Wafa Sultan, was heard in camera.
By hearing so few experts on Islam, the court showed no interest in learning the facts about the religion which could define Islam as a totalitarian threat to Dutch open society. This would have given Geert Wilders the legal right to speak out against it outside of parliament.