Today was the first day of the trial against Wilders. It was a procedural hearing and it will be resumed on February 3 after the three judges having considered the opening arguments of both sides and decided upon when and which witnesses have to appear. The prosecution will only call Wilders to the stand. Moszkowicz, Wilders’ lawyer, wants to call 17 witnesses:
1) Professor Sackers, Radboud University
2) Professor Zwart, Utrecht University
3) Afshin Ellian, anti-islam columnist, Leiden University
4) Professor Theo de Roos,
5) Professor András Sajó, Judge of the EHMS
6) Professor Hans Jansen, anti-islam columnist
7) Simon Admiraal, Islamic studies
8) Wafaa Sultan
9) Professor Israeli
11)Andrew G. Bostom
13)Mohammed Bouyeri (murderer of Theo van Gogh 2004)
14)Mr. Jasdi (spiritual leader Iranian president)
15)Ahmad Jannati (chairman Council of
16)Imam Fawaz Jneid (imam of the Salafi mosque in The Hague)
Interesting names, in particular of Mohammed Bouyeri. This will most likely mean that Wilders we follow a line of defense we can call a Bouyeri defense. He takes up the position of the most notorious Dutch Muslim who killed film director Theo van Gogh and stated that this was what Islam expected from him. According to Wilders there is no such thing as a moderate Islam, there is only one Islam and that Islam is fundamentally at odds with the tenets of Dutch culture. Views of Islam different from those of Bouyeri are considered to be false, examples of whitewashing, lying or at least irrelevant and not to be taken seriously. Every other view of Islam is therefore false and, moreover, as such he (Wilders) must be telling the truth which in turn means that he cannot be convicted. The problem of course is that there is not single view of what Islam is and the fragmentization of Islamic authority renders such an image completely ridiculous. And Wilders is making up lies everywhere as I have shown in my analysis of Fitna and his speech in Denmark. Nevertheless, the image he wants to create is compelling for its simplicity and its capacity of making the world understandable for many people.
Below you can read Wilders’ speech at the court but before that I want to share another observation of today. At the start of the trial today protesters were outside the courthouse. You can watch a film of that HERE. That of course is not very remarkable. Now for those who understand Dutch, it is very clear that the people in this film are not among the most eloquent part of the Dutch nation. This makes them of course very vulnerable for all kinds of mockery with names such as clowns, retards, fools, attention-gays, boldheads and so on. It seems that also for anti-Islam/pro-Wilders there are ethics of how to go public with your complaints, grievances and claims. If you do not comply you are rendered abnormal for example by a Dutch shocklog (of all sites). Of course there are ‘normal‘ people (read ‘people like us who are eloquent, civilized and look the same). I don’t know what is more troublesome, the constant lies by Wilders or the continuing denouncement of people who are in some way different in the way they go public. In all accounts, these people are not taken seriously; whether they are radical Muslims or Wilders’ supporters. It is therefore a particular modality of exclusion that, my impression, is becoming more and more dominant.
And now for Wilders’ speech:
Mister Speaker, judges of the court,
I would like to make use of my right to speak for a few minutes.
Freedom is the most precious of all our attainments and the most vulnerable. People have devoted their lives to it and given their lives for it. Our freedom in this country is the outcome of centuries. It is the consequence of a history that knows no equal and has brought us to where we are now.
I believe with all my heart and soul that the freedom in the Netherlands is threatened. That what our heritage is, what generations could only dream about, that this freedom is no longer a given, no longer self-evident.
I devote my life to the defence of our freedom. I know what the risks are and I pay a price for it every day. I do not complain about it; it is my own decision. I see that as my duty and it is why I am standing here.
I know that the words I use are sometimes harsh, but they are never rash. It is not my intention to spare the ideology of conquest and destruction, but I am not any more out to offend people. I have nothing against Muslims. I have a problem with Islam and the Islamization of our country because Islam is at odds with freedom.
Future generations will wonder to themselves how we in 2010, in this place, in this room, earned our most precious attainment. Whether there is freedom in this debate for both parties and thus also for the critics of Islam, or that only one side of the discussion may be heard in the Netherlands? Whether freedom of speech in the Netherlands applies to everyone or only to a few? The answer to this is at once the answer to the question whether freedom still has a home in this country.
Freedom was never the property of a small group, but was always the heritage of us all. We are all blessed by it.
Lady Justice wears a blindfold, but she has splendid hearing. I hope that she hears the following sentences, loud and clear:
It is not only a right, but also the duty of free people to speak against every ideology that threatens freedom. Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States was right: The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
I hope that the freedom of speech shall triumph in this trial.
In conclusion, Mister Speaker, judges of the court.
This trial is obviously about the freedom of speech. But this trial is also about the process of establishing the truth. Are the statements that I have made and the comparisons that I have taken, as cited in the summons, true? If something is true then can it still be punishable? This is why I urge you to not only submit to my request to hear witnesses and experts on the subject of freedom of speech. But I ask you explicitly to honour my request to hear witnesses and experts on the subject of Islam. I refer not only to Mister Jansen and Mister Admiraal, but also to the witness/experts from Israel, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Without these witnesses, I cannot defend myself properly and, in my opinion, this would not be an fair trial.
- Part 0 – Outlining the case
- Part 1 – Update on the Wilders trial
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