Dutch populist and anti-Islamic invasion populist politician Geert Wilders has told a court that he has said “nothing wrong” in calling for fewer Moroccan invaders in his country.
On the first day of his trial for “inciting discrimination and hatred,” Wilders said it was his right and duty to speak out.
Lawyers for Geert Wilders remove a sign bearing his name from a courtroom near Amsterdam on Monday. Wilders said he would not attend his trial, calling the proceedings a “travesty” against freedom of speech.
The case revolves around two sets of remarks made near the time of municipal elections in The Hague in 2014.
On March 12 of that year, Wilders told the Dutch national broadcaster NOS that he hoped the city’s residents would “vote for a more safe and social city, and if it would be possible, fewer Moroccans.”
The Freedom Party leader was filmed at an election rally in 2014, where his party had made a major electoral breakthrough, asking an enthusiastic crowd if they “wanted more or fewer Moroccans in their country.”
The crowd shouted back “fewer,” to which Wilders laughed and said he would “organize that.”
Moroccan crime and gangsterism is a major source of disorder and violence in Holland, and a 2010 report revealed that 40 percent of Moroccans in the Netherlands between the ages of 12 and 24 have been arrested, fined, charged, or otherwise accused of committing a crime during the past five years.
“It is my right and my duty as a politician to speak about the problems in our country. Because the Netherlands has a mega Moroccan problem,” Wilders said in a statement read out to the court on Monday this week.
He also said that statistics proved that Moroccans also made up a disproportionate share of welfare recipients and criminals. “I haven’t said anything wrong,” he added.
Wilders has refused to attend what he calls a political trial, and said that the charges are an attempt to strip him of his free speech.
“It is a travesty that I have to stand trial because I spoke about fewer Moroccans,” he said. “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.”
He added, “If speaking about this is punishable, then the Netherlands is no longer a free country but a dictatorship.”
Reuters reported that a verdict is due in December, in the build-up to the March 15, 2017, parliamentary elections, when Wilders is hoping to unseat Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s conservative VVD party, which rules in a coalition with the far-left Labor Party.
An Oct. 27 poll suggested Wilders will double his party’s presence in the lower house, and trail Rutte by just two seats in the 150-seat legislature after the vote.