24 Jun 2011

Right wing politician cleared of incitement

6:11 am on 24 June 2011

A court in The Netherlands has found right-wing politician Geert Wilders not guilty of inciting hatred against Muslims.

The presiding judge said comments Mr Wilders had made about Islam were legitimate and "acceptable within the context of public debate", the BBC reports.

Judge van Oosten said that although the bench found remarks by Mr Wilders "gross and denigrating", they had not given rise to hatred.

Members of minority groups who initiated the case had told the trial that Mr Wilders' comments had led to a rise in discrimination and violence against Muslims.

The Freedom Party leader was charged with inciting hatred and discrimination in January 2009, based on anti-Islamic statements he had made in speeches, written articles and in his controversial film Fitna.

Before the court's verdict, the plaintiffs had said they would consider taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights.