There is nothing hyperbolic in stating that a trial which has just started in Holland will have unparalleled significance for the future of Europe. It is not just about whether our culture will survive, but whether we are even allowed to state the fact that it is being threatened.
The trial of Geert Wilders has garnered hardly any attention in the mainstream press here. [NOTE: Also true in USA] Fortunately the blogosphere can correct some of this.
Wilders is a Dutch MP and leader of Holland’s fastest-growing party, the Party for Freedom. Just a few years ago he was the sole MP for his party. The latest polls show that his party could win the biggest number of seats of any party in Holland when the voters next go to the polls.
His stances have clearly chimed with the Dutch people. They include an end to the era of mass immigration, an end to cultural relativism, and an end to the perceived suborning of European values to Islamic ones. For saying this, and more, he has for many years had to live under round-the-clock security protection. Which you would have thought proves the point to some extent.
Now the latest attempt of the Dutch ruling class to keep Wilders from office has begun. Last week, apparently because of the number of complaints they have received (trial by vote anyone?) the trial of Wilders began.
The Dutch courts charge that Wilders ‘on multiple occasions, at least once, (each time) in public, orally, in writing or through images, intentionally offended a group of people, i.e. Muslims, based on their religion’.
I’m sorry? Whoa there, just a minute. The man’s on trial because he ‘offended a group of people’? I get offended by all sorts of people. I get offended by very fat people. I get offended by very thick people. I get offended by very sensitive people. I get offended by the crazy car-crash of vowels in Dutch verbs. But I don’t try to press charges.
Yet, crazily, this is exactly what is going on now in a Dutch courtroom. If found guilty of this Alice-in-Wonderland accusation of ‘offending a group of people’, Wilders faces up to two years in prison.
If anyone doubts the surreal nature of the proceedings now going on they should simply look through the summons which is available in an English translation here. It shows that Wilders is on trial for his film Fitna. And for various things he has said in articles and interviews in the Dutch press.
Now some people liked Fitna and some people didn’t. That’s a matter of choice. But by any previous interpretation it is not the job of courts in democratic countries to become film-critics. In fact it would create a very bad precedent. I thought the latest Alec Baldwin film stank. But I don’t think (though the temptation lingers) Baldwin should go to prison for it.
Friday, January 29, 2010
That's my take-away from Douglas Murray's blog coverage in The Telegraph (UK):