News 17 may — 19:26

Wilders appeals discrimination conviction


 Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders began his appeal on Thursday against a conviction for inciting discrimination, accusing prosecutors of trying to destroy his right to free speech, Reuters reports.

Wilders, whose party finished second in an election last year, is the leader of the opposition in the Netherlands and one of the leading figures in Europe’s far right.

“What the Islamists haven’t been able to do to me, the prosecutors are trying to do anyway: destroy freedom of expression,” Wilders said on Twitter before the start of Thursday’s hearing, held in a special high-security courtroom near Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

Wilders is appealing against his 2016 conviction for inciting discrimination, over a campaign rally at which he asked supporters whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the country. When they chanted “Fewer! Fewer!” he replied: “We’re going to take care of that.”

His lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops argued at the start of proceedings that the criteria that determined whether speech was discriminatory were hazy and had been “selectively applied” against Wilders.

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