It's the kind of scene one might expect to see in a hard-line Sharia court in Saudi Arabia: a man facing trial for the putative "crime" of insulting Islam. But the defendant in this case is Dutch MP Geert Wilders and the ominous setting for his trial is none other than his native Netherlands. This week, Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) and an outspoken critic of Islam and Islamic extremism, went on trial on politically loaded charges of inciting hatred and discrimination toward Islam. The outcome of the trial, which could yet result in jail time or a financial penalty for Wilders, will reveal just how far Europe's multicultural enforcers are willing to go to silence free speech in order to appease the continent's increasingly restive and radicalized Muslim populations. In his remarks from the trial, reprinted below, Wilders offers a powerful statement about the stakes involved: nothing less than freedom itself. – The Editors
Wilders: Mister Speaker, judges of the court,
I would like to make use of my right to speak for a few minutes.
Freedom is the most precious of all our attainments and the most vulnerable. People have devoted their lives to it and given their lives for it. Our freedom in this country is the outcome of centuries. It is the consequence of a history that knows no equal and has brought us to where we are now.