A prominent right-wing Dutch politician was found "not guilty" on charges of hate speech Thursday following a lengthy trial focusing on his outspoken criticism of Islam. The controversial politician, Geert Wilders, faced a one-year prison sentence, reports The New York Times, for "making provocative statements including comparing the Koran with 'Mein Kampf' and calling for an end to Muslim immigration" but his actions are protected under the country's free speech laws, an Amsterdam court found. Wilders, 47, was also controversial for his film Fitna "which juxtaposes footage of Islamic terrorist attacks and warns of the dangers of Islamism,“ reports Forbes. Wilders also flew to New York last August, meeting with Newt Gingrich to oppose the so-called Ground Zero Mosque in Manhattan. "It’s not only an acquittal for me,” said Wilders following the decision, “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. An enormous burden has fallen from my shoulders.” While dismissing the charges, the presiding judge Marcel van Oosten labeled Wilders' comments "rude and denigrating."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.