The far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders, facing a retrial on charges of incitement to hatred and discrimination, used a court appearance on Monday to engage in harsh anti-Muslim rhetoric, calling Islam a “totalitarian ideology” that seeks to “destroy” European civilisation.
Critics accused Mr Wilders of turning the trial into a campaign event for his party, the Party for Freedom (PVV), which is preparing for provincial elections in March, the Financial Times reports:
Mr Wilders faces charges before the court of Amsterdam that his anti-Islamic statements have led to discrimination against Muslims in the Netherlands. The trial’s significance grew after elections last year made the PVV the third-largest party. It now provides the swing votes that give the Netherlands’ governing coalition its majority in parliament. [...]
Mr Wilders’ first trial on the same charges was annulled in October, after his lawyers revealed that the presiding judge had spoken in advance about the case with an expert witness for the defence when the two met at a society dinner. Mr Wilders was granted a retrial before new judges.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports: