Dutch prosecutors are investigating populist firebrand politician Geert Wilders over an anti-Islamisation speech he made in Austria in 2015, for potential charges of incitement.
Two years ago, Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders was invited by the anti-mass migration Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) to speak on the subject of Islamisation. Wilders told the crowd “Islam calls on people to become terrorists — the Koran leaves no doubt about it,” and continued: “Islam is an ideology of war and hatred.”
Shortly after, complaints about the speech were made to the Austrian authorities by, among others, an Austrian Muslim Association. Although no charges were brought in Austria, the authorities there have now opted to pass the investigation on to Dutch prosecutors, Algemeen Dagblad reports.
Nina Bussek, spokesman for the Austrian Prosecutor’s Office, said “We decided not to prosecute him here but to hand over the case to our Dutch colleagues due to practical considerations.”
Dutch public prosecution service spokesman Vincent Veenman has said that it is too early to tell whether charges will be brought, but that the Dutch prosecutor is investigating the claims. If found guilty of incitement, Wilders could face potential prison time.
Mr Wilders reacted to the allegations against him saying, “I find this truly unbelievable. Let them catch bandits and terrorists instead of prosecuting a politician for speaking about Islam. It is a disgrace that this is happening in the city of Spinoza, who was not only a great defender of tolerance but also of freedom of thought and speech.”
He continued: “It is a legal jihad. While the elites are to blame for the existential crisis we are currently in, with their open border-policies and unprecedented love for Islam and their cultural relativism, they sell us out completely and put our freedom and security at stake.
“They have abandoned the legacy of Spinoza and introduced the totalitarianism of Mohammedanism in our nations. I say: no more. It is time to do our duty and defend our freedom and the freedom of our children.”
Wilders has already faced court this year, over remarks he had made about Moroccans in the Netherlands in 2014. Wilders was found guilty of incitement and sentenced to a fine of 5,000 euros. In 2011 he was also charged, though acquitted, of incitement after he compared the Quran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Despite the government pressure, Wilder’s PVV came second in the Dutch national elections earlier this year, being one of the few parties to gain more seats. As the coalition talks continue to stumble, the PVV may have a chance to either enter government or gain more seats if a new election has to be called.