THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CN) — The Dutch Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of the far-right politician Geert Wilders for making discriminatory remarks against Moroccans.
The Hoge Raad found that Wilders, a member of parliament and leader of an anti-immigration political party, was correctly convicted in 2016 of insulting a minority group at a campaign rally.
"Group insults are prohibited under the criminal code. A politician must also adhere to the basic principles of the rule of law,” presiding judge Vincent van den Brink said in the decision.
The case dates to a 2014 campaign rally, where he asked a group of supporters at a bar in The Hague: "Do you want more or fewer Moroccans in this city and in the Netherlands?" The crowd chanted, “minder, minder,” or “fewer, fewer,” in response to which Wilders replied: "Then we will arrange that."
Thousands of people made complaints to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service after the exchange was broadcast on television.
Wilders denies that he had insulted a group, arguing he was only referring to the criminal element within the Dutch-Moroccan community. The platform of The Freedom Party, which he founded, calls for a ban on immigration from Islamic countries and criminalizing dual-nationality.
The populist politician appealed his initial conviction, and the case has dragged on for years amid allegations of political interference in the case. Wilders’ legal team argued that the charge was politically motivated after leaked emails from the Dutch justice department showed officials encouraging the public prosecutor to move forward with bringing the case.
“The Netherlands is corrupt and the rule of law is bankrupt. I do care about the decision of the Supreme Court and will continue to speak the truth,” Wilders told reporters following the decision.
The prosecution had asked for a fine of 5,000 euros ($6,000), but the district court concluded that the conviction was enough punishment. The decision to not issue a punishment was upheld on appeal. "He's been paying a high price for communicating his opinion for years,” Presiding Judge Jan Maarten Reinking said at the 2020 appeals decision, explaining the court’s decision to once again not fine or sentence Wilders to any jail time.
Wilders’ rhetoric hasn’t just been directed at ethnic minorities. Last month, he called journalists “gewoon tuig van de richel,” or scum of the earth, in response to a news story about fellow party member and MP Dion Graus, abusing a junior female party member by forcing her to drink alcohol and do “a lot of serious things.” Wilders said that no complaint had been made to the party about the incidents.
People of Moroccan origin make up about 2% of the Dutch population. They are the second-largest immigrant group in the country, after people with Turkish heritage. The Dutch economy experienced a labor shortage in the 1950s and 1960s, and the government turned to importing workers from Turkey and Morocco to fill the gap. Many of those people ultimately settled in the country, bringing their families with them.
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