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Dutch court rejects bias allegations in politician's trial for anti-Islamic statements

A panel of Dutch judges on Tuesday rejected claims of judicial bias, ordering the trial of politician Geert Wilders [personal website; JURIST news archive] on charges [prosecution materials, in Dutch] of making anti-Islamic statements to resume. The panel considered [CSM report] the accusation [JURIST report], but found that language used by Amsterdam District Court Judge Jan Moors on Monday was unobjectionable [AP report]. Moors had said that Wilders avoided discussions caused by his controversial statements. Wilders is known for calling Islam "fascist," comparing the Quran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and advocating prohibiting Muslims from immigrating to the Netherlands. With this issue resolved, Wilders' trial will now continue [Bloomberg report] on Wednesday.

Last week, Wilders announced [JURIST report] that the Dutch government will attempt to ban the burqa [JURIST news archive] and other full Islamic veils to secure the support of Wilders' Freedom Party [party website, in Dutch] in forming a coalition government. An Amsterdam trial court ruled in February held that it had jurisdiction to try Wilders for anti-Islamic statements. The court rejected [JURIST report] Wilders' claim that he should be tried by the Supreme Court as a member of parliament, finding that his alleged crime was committed outside his capacity as an MP. Much of the controversy stems from Wilders' 15-minute film, Fitna, which shows images of the Quran alongside images of violence and says democratic values are threatened by the increasing number of Muslims in Europe. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the film "offensively anti-Islamic" [JURIST report] after its release. In February 2008, Pakistan blocked access to YouTube's website because it had posted a movie trailer for Wilders' film, but access was restored [JURIST reports] several days later. Indonesia followed suit [JURIST report] in April 2008. The same month, a district court in the Netherlands rejected [JURIST report] a bid by the Dutch Islamic Federation to block Wilders' anti-Quran statements, saying that his comments are protected by the right of free expression and do not constitute speech that incites hate or violence.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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