The verdict is in. Geert Wilders, after a three ring circus of a trial in Amsterdam in which he stood accused of anti-Islam hate speech because he called for the Koran to be banned because of the hate speech and incitement to violence in it, just as Mein Kampf is banned in Holland, he has finally been acquitted of the charges against him.
The court ruled that his anti-Islam statements, while offensive to many Muslims, fell within the bounds of legitimate political debate.
Presiding judge Marcel van Oosten said Wilders' claims that Islam is violent by nature, and his calls to halt Muslim immigration and ban Muslim holy book the Koran, must be seen in a wider context of debate over immigration policy. The judge described statements about a "tsunami" of immigrants as "crude and denigrating", but legally legitimate given the wider context and his acknowledgement that those who integrate are acceptable and do not call for violence.
The Amsterdam court said his public statement could not be directly linked to increased discrimination against Dutch Muslims. It found that Wilders' rhetoric was "on the edge of what is legally permissible" but not illegal.
As regards Wilders' 2008 film, Fitna, the judgement said, "Given the film in its whole (sic) and the context of societal debate, the court finds that there is no question of inciting hate with the film...”
The specific charges against Wilders were:
Intentionally offending Muslims
Inciting hatred against Muslims
Inciting discrimination against Muslims
Inciting hatred of non-western immigrants
These have at least one aspect in common: They rely solely upon the subjective experience of those allegedly offended or hated, with the possible exception of the third above and even that is open to debate.
In short, the verdict's message is that just because a person may feel offended — and Islam is very ready to feel offended, even when it is exposed to the same criticisms levelled at other faith systems — this cannot necessarily mean that he/she has actually been offended.
That these charges, based on subjective experience as they were, represented the essentials of the case against Wilders and were nevertheless proceeded with at considerable cost to the Dutch taxpayer, highlights the difficulties faced by Western judicial systems in the face of the overemotional and exaggerated sense of entitlement of Islam to be treated as a special case.
Given the distinctly bizarre conduct of the trial, which I have described elsewhere, the verdict is surprising indeed, for from the beginning it seemed that the court was determined to find Wilders guilty.
Whatever one may think of Wilders' politics there can be little doubt that he was singled out for particular opprobrium. Why? Because he dared openly to criticise what he sees as the malign influence of Islam in the West and particularly in his native Holland, as evidenced by more vocal Muslims' slavish adherence to its hate-filled scriptures.
It is customary for western media, most of which have lost touch with reality or any sense of ethics, to inveigh against the influence of the so-called Jewish/Zionist lobby but why is it that we hear not one peep from them about the Muslim lobby whose influence seems so strong in Holland that a democratic legal system continued to persecute Wilders? If the travesty which passed for Wilders' trial was not unduly influenced by Muslim pressure, then why had the Dutch judiciary taken leave of its collective senses to persist in this venture?
Could it have been to open the charges to such scrutiny (sunlight, of course, being the best disinfectant) and to create such a strong precedent that no future legal action based on beliefs-as-facts rather than on objective evidence and based on the Muslim hair-trigger sense of grievance and their demand to be treated as a special case rather than to take their place among other citizens of Holland and to be treated only as fairly as those other citizens are treated, can ever again see the light of day in a Dutch court?
Or could it simply have been that the very conduct of the trial rendered a "guilty" verdict untenable and it would very easily be overturned on the appeal which would surely follow?
I would welcome readers' opinions.
This verdict, although eminently sensible and just, is but a small victory in the battle against Islamist and other supremacist belief systems. In spite of it there can be no doubt that double standards still prevail in the West as regards the licence afforded to Islam to insult and deride other faiths or beliefs without let or hindrance, as opposed to the iron fist which could descend if any in the UK for example should ever criticise Islam in the way in which Wilders did.
All Western governments, and European governments in particular, have been groomed into fear of giving offence by the overreaction of Muslims to any perceived criticism. The more cunning among Muslim leaders will continue play upon the emotional discomfort of our politicians' cognitive dissonance and their fear of being thought to be politically incorrect, which confuses and prevents them from speaking out against Islamic excesses and overinflated sense of entitlement.
Thus, bit by bit, Islam will still try to make our laws malleable to suit its purpose. It has been allowed to do that because of the cowardice of our leaders in the face of threats of violence, their lack of understanding of the true meaning of multiculturalism, and their woeful naiveté in failing to perceive Islam's true intentions even when these are being played out before them.
Although the verdict has set a welcome precedent for the right to freedom of expression in Europe and in the West, I believe that there is still a long way to go before the overinflated demands of Islam, which it believes it has the right to impose on the rest of us, can be contained. We dare not take our eye off the ball. We need to remind our leaders of the outcome of this trial and of the money wasted in the continuing of it against the advice of prosecution counsel, whenever they attempt to silence justified criticism in future of Islam's attitude to other faiths, to its women, and of its exaggerated sense of entitlement and hair-trigger sense of grievance.