The Amsterdam Court of Appeals has ordered the criminal prosecution of a Dutch member of parliament for criticizing Islam. The court's ruling overturns a previous decision by Dutch public prosecutors, who had determined that there was not enough evidence to charge Geert Wilders, leader of the conservative Freedom Party, for hate crimes after he produced a hard-hitting film that says Islam promotes violence. In a written judgment, the appeals court said that "by attacking the symbols of the Muslim religion, [Wilders] also insulted Muslim believers."
The ruling will please the Dutch Muslim immigrant groups who asked the appeals court to force the justice department to prosecute Wilders for expressing his opinions. But many others say the prosecution is an alarming attack on free speech by politically correct activist judges who are trying to silence criticism of the growing power of Islam in Europe.
Wilders, who frequently speaks out against the "Islamization" of the Netherlands, said "the judgment of the court [is] an attack on the freedom of expression. … Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted. … Who will stand up for our culture if I am silenced?"