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Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders rises in polls after hate crime conviction

'I will never be silent. You will not be able to stop me', MP tells judges who convicted him

Gabriel Samuels
Tuesday 13 December 2016 17:58 GMT
Geert Wilders: 'I will never be silent'

Public support for controversial far-right leader Geert Wilders continues to rise in the Netherlands, despite his recent conviction for inciting racial hatred.

Mr Wilders’ Party for Freedom (PVV) has risen from a predicted 27 to 36 seats during his course of his hate speech trial, making it the strongest party in the country in the lead up to the election next March according to a poll by the Maurice de Hond Institute.

The incumbent Liberal Party, led by Prime Minister Mark Rutte, would be pushed into second if the vote was tomorrow according to the poll, with their coalition partner Labour Party trailing behind in third place. As the PVV currently holds 12 seats, it could conceivably triple its representation in parliament.

Mr Wilders was found guilty of inciting discrimination after leading a chant against allowing Moroccans to live in the Netherlands in 2014. The incident was filmed by TV cameras and Mr Wilder’s allegedly vowed to “take care” of immigration.

The court opted not to fine him and said a sentence would not be imposed, arguing the conviction itself was sufficient punishment for a politician. The PVV leader said the trial endangered freedom of speech and was a politically-motivated "charade".

In a televised message following his conviction, Mr Wilders said: “I still cannot believe it, but I have just been convicted because I asked a question about Moroccans. The Netherlands has become a sick country.

“I have a message for the judges who convicted me: you have restricted the freedom of speech of millions of Dutch people and hence convicted everyone. No-one trusts you anymore. I will never be silent. You will not be able to stop me.”

In August, Mr Wilders said he wants to ban all Islamic symbols, mosques and the Quran from the Netherlands, as part of a “total de-Islamification”. Under the PVV, politicians say refugee asylum centres will be closed, and borders shut to migrants from Muslim countries.

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