In The Netherlands Dutch firebrand MP to skip hate speech trial

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Defiant Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders said his trial next week on charges of inciting racial hatred was "a political trial" play

Defiant Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders said his trial next week on charges of inciting racial hatred was "a political trial"

(ANP/AFP/File)
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Defiant Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders said Friday he will refuse to attend his trial next week on charges of inciting racial hatred, dubbing the hearing "a travesty".

"It is my right and my duty as a politician to speak about the problems in our country," Wilders said in a statement, renewing accusations that it was "a political trial" and insisting, "I have said nothing wrong."

The trial is set to open on Monday before a three-judge bench with the far-right politician facing charges of insulting a racial group and inciting racial hatred after comments he made about Moroccans living in The Netherlands.

Set to last until November 25, the trial in a high security court in Schiphol will focus on a comment made at a March 2014 local government election rally, when he asked supporters whether they wanted "fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?"

When the crowd shouted back "Fewer! Fewer!" a smiling Wilders answered: "We're going to organise that."

But Wilders said on Friday "this trial is a political trial, in which I refuse to cooperate".

He said he would leave his defence in the hands of his legal team led by lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops, and instead "go to work" by attending parliamentary sessions in The Hague.

"It is a travesty that I have to stand trial because I spoke about fewer Moroccans," Wilders said Friday.

"Millions of Dutch citizens (43 percent of the population) want fewer Moroccans," he claimed.

"Not because they despise all Moroccans or want all Moroccans out of the country, but because they are sick and tired of the nuisance and terror caused by so many Moroccans."

"If speaking about this is punishable, then the Netherlands is no longer a free country. But a dictatorship," he added.

And Wilders accused Dutch justices of double standards after Prime Minister Mark Rutte used a vulgar expression in a recent TV interview to say citizens of Turkish descent who refused to assimilate should return to their countries of origin.

Rutte and other politicians who have expressed strong views on Dutch citizens with foreign roots "are not being prosecuted. Rightly so," Wilders said.

But people want to "have me silenced by the court," he added, vowing he would continue to speak his mind.

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