Wilders appeals against 'fewer Moroccans' conviction, launches new cartoon plan

Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party | Jasper Juinen  Getty Images

Geert Wilders of the Freedom Party | Jasper Juinen Getty Images

Wilders' lawyer requested that the proceedings be delayed until prosecutors released information about that case, but prosecutor Gerard Sta told judges there was no reason to delay the appeal.

After a three-week trial, judges in December 2016 found Wilders guilty of discrimination against Moroccans during a 2014 election rally, when he asked supporters whether they wanted "fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands". The crowd shouted back: "Fewer! Fewer!" a smiling Wilders answered: "We're going to organise that".

Some 6,400 people, many of them Moroccan immigrants, complained about his comments.

The judges ruled that due to "the inflammatory nature in which the statements were made, others were encouraged to discriminate against people of Moroccan origin". The polarizing MP was, however, acquitted of hate speech and his sentence did not include prison time or a fine.

Geert-Jan Knoops, Wilders' lawyer, argued at the beginning of the proceedings that prosecutors had applied a double standard to Wilders and that they had "selectively applied" to him the standard by which they determine whether speech is discriminatory.

In February this year Pechtold had said: "I have yet to meet the first Russian who corrects his mistakes himself".

Pechtold was commenting after the shock resignation of the foreign minister who admitted lying about attending a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Seven people filed a complaint against Pechtold because of his comment, but the public prosecutor said that the politician had not insulted an entire group of people and should not be prosecuted. "If one of them is prosecuted, the other should be as well". "It is not the role of the court".

He urged judges to postpone the Wilders case so they could examine the situation around Pechtold further.

"The court is not taking its role seriously", added Knoops. "The decision by the presiding judge is so incomprehensible that it raises questions about whether there is some influence here".

Despite the looming court case, Wilders has kept up a steady stream of attacks on Islam as a religion whose "imams preach hatred".

Wilders used the occasion of the start of his appeal process to announce a 'Mohammed' cartoon competition later this year, adding that he hoped to host the event in the parliamentary complex, despite previously being blocked from doing so.

"I do not broadcast the cartoons to provoke; I do it because we have to show that we stand for freedom of speech and that we will never surrender to violence". He embraces the media's characterization of him as an "anti-Islam politician".

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