Dutch Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders will be tried on charges of “inciting racial hatred,” a court in The Hague ruled Friday.
The charges date back to 2014, when Wilders asked his supporters if they wanted fewer or more Moroccans in the country during a televised rally. The crowd started chanting “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!” with Wilders responding that he would take care of it.
Wilders’ attorneys argued their client was singled out from a larger group of people and asked for the case to be dismissed. Judge Hendrik Steenhuis disagreed and said prosecutors had great leeway in deciding that the action should be considered discriminatory speech.
Wilders responded to the news by saying he is getting “prosecuted for what millions [of Dutch people] think.”
The Freedom Party is currently in a dead heat with the ruling conservative VVD party to become the biggest party in next year’s parliamentary elections.
Wilders released a manifesto in August for how the Freedom Party plans to reverse the “Islamization” of the country between 2017-2021. The platform includes bans on mosques, Islamic schools, the Koran, headscarves on women and Muslim immigration. (RELATED: Netherlands’ Most Popular Party Wants Ban On All Things Islam)
Attorney Geert-Jan Knoops stressed that the trial could limit Wilders’ right to freedom of speech. A judge responded that the trial won’t “affect his political freedoms or that of the party,” according to Politico.
Wilders’ trial is set to start Oct. 31 and a verdict is expected by the end of the year.
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