Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders was convicted of “inciting racial discrimination” Friday, but he won’t face any punishment for remarks he made in 2014.
The charges date back to a televised rally in 2014, when Wilders asked his supporters if they wanted fewer or more Moroccans in the country. The crowd started chanting “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!,” and Wilders responded he would take care of it.
Wilders refused to attend his own trial, stating he was getting “prosecuted for what millions [of Dutch people] think.” His attorneys argued their client was singled out from a larger group of people, but judges felt they had great leeway in deciding that the action should be considered discriminatory speech.
Judges described it as an “extraordinary case” and felt the conviction was enough punishment despite prosecutors recommending fines for Wilders.
Wilders said the Netherlands has become “a sick country” when he commented on the verdict in a video following the ruling. He further told the judges that they have “restricted the freedom of speech of millions of Dutch [people], and hence convicted everyone.”
Wilders released a manifesto in August on how PVV 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)
PVV leads in polls ahead of the parliamentary election in March. The party will have a hard time finding coalition partners and is unlikely to form a government despite its growing popularity.
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