Yesterday was the 22nd day in court for Mr. Wilders. Imagine that, spending 22 days of your life in court, just because you expressed an opinion! The long court sessions are even wearing down this blogger, imagine what it must be being the defendant in this court case. It must be like living in a nut house, having to spend 22+ days in court, and that’s only when you have a prosecutor pleading not guilty…
After the last Friday and Wednesday listening to what can best described as emotional anti Wilders rants, we could hear this Monday the defense plea. Mr. Moszkowicz started at 14:00 and finished his plea at just past 19:00. I did my best to take notes and offer some views of todays events, but a long well-constructed defense argument like this can’t really be justly abbreviated by a lay person like this. But I still hope that below impression give people outside The Netherlands some idea of today’s events.
Mr. Moszkowicz started by repeating again that he thinks the court case should have been dismissed. Most important reason for dismissal is the prejudice against Mr. Wilders in the court order that forced the trial. The court order described Mr. Wilders as being actually guilty of hate speech crimes. Remember, the court order was the result of a just hearings, not a trial in which the defendant can defend him selves against allegations. Today he would often refer to the legal quality of the order and even calling it a rag.
The prejudice of the court continues even after their ruling. One of the courts judges, judge Schalken, kept trying to influence the trial. He discussed his own court ruling with others, even politicians and even wrote about it in a legal magazine. By those actions he was expanding his own initial ruling. Judge Schalken also had a suspicious dinner with defense witness Hans Jansen. A dinner that was organized just days before Mr. Jansen had to give testimony in this trial against Mr. Wilders. During the dinner Schalken had tried to convince Mr. Jansen of the rightfulness of his prosecution order. An order that described Mr. Wilders as guilty of hate crime offenses, a reason for Mr. Moszkowicz to argue it was already an order to convict and not an order for a fair trial.
Mr. Moszkowicz also refuted the current courts argument that the actions of Mr. Schalken were no longer relevant for this trial as he was no longer involved. The courts judges are, just like judge Schalken, from the Amsterdam court and Mr. Moszkowicz argued that there was no law that would block the future involvement of judge Schalken in future handling of the case against Mr. Wilders.
The involvement of judge Schalken was also one sided. He spoken publicly about his court order and defended it against what he called misrepresentation in the media. But when the prosecution included the Islam fascism comparison, a very obvious misrepresentation of the court order, the judge stayed silent. The judge appears only to act into the disadvantage of Mr. Wilders, thus, so argues the defense, he is acting in bad faith against Mr. Wilders.
The defense was glad the prosecution asked for a not guilty verdict. But besides that, the prosecution does not seem to be overly critical about the prosecution of Mr. Wilders. They even expanded the charges beyond what was ordered by the court. The current court even rejected some of those charges on request of the defense. The prosecution was also not very critical about the role of judge Schalken. Nor were the critical about the perjury of Schalken his friend Mr. Hendriks who organized the dinner with Mr. Jansen.
The defense also argued against prosecuting Mr. Wilders for Fitna as a whole, instead of specific parts. Why charge Mr. Wilders for specific quotes in other utterances but do a blanked inclusion of a whole movie? How should one defend against such broad allegations?
That does not mean Mr. Moszkowicz rejected the prosecutions plea. On the contrary, he actually has spent a considerable amount of time for elaborately praising the prosecutor’s plea. He described the prosecutors as the crème de la crème, Dutch finest experts on anti-discrimination law. He especially praised their well-argued disablement of parts of the court order that ordered the trial.
He would repeat it multiple times today: Mr. Moszkowicz worldview has been turned upside down by this court case. Prosecutors become defenders and judges become prosecutors (he is referring to the judges that ordered Mr. Wilders his prosecution) and judges that don’t respect the defendants right to remain silent (previously dismissed court). Even sitting judges, one of them a sitting supreme court judge, that publish their commentaries about this court case!
We should also not forget the special position of Mr. Wilders, Mr. Moszkowicz told the court. He is risking his life for voicing his opinion that Islamization is the biggest threat for the Western world. But unfortunately the prosecution remains silent about this fact. But we should not forget that Mr. Wilders received his 24h protection after Theo van Gogh was assassinated for making the Islam critical movie Submission. Clearly it was Mr. Wilders he needed protection and not the other way around.
Also Mr. Wilders is directly affected by the danger he warns against. Seen in that light, his statements should be considered very restrained indeed, argued Mr. Moszkowicz.
The defense also distanced itself from statements of the prosecution that declared that the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims were peaceful in The Netherlands. Not only was Theo van Gogh assassinated, there also have been many attacks by Muslims on gays and Jews. Mr. Moszkowicz said the prosecution shouldn’t close its eyes for what’s happening outside of the Netherlands. Throughout the whole world and in Europe we have seen many Islamic terrorist attacks.
The defense also plead that the opinions for which Mr. Wilders stands trial are supported by the facts, facts that have been confirmed by all expert witnesses. Nobody in this trial has refuted any of these facts. Not the prosecution, not the police, not the court that ordered the trial and neither did the complaining plaintiffs refute any of these facts. The defense was pleased to have seen that the prosecution had recurred from its previous position that the truth of Mr. Wilders his statements was irrelevant (as they had argued in the earlier trial).
The prosecution had claimed equivalence between the Koran and Bible saying something like that they both contained terrible statements. But Mr. Moszkowicz told the court that although the prosecutions makes this claim, they fail to provide any support for the claim. That reduced the claim to an (irrelevant) opinion, according to the defense.
It seems that it’s considered very important if Mr. Wilders was disrespectful of an abstraction, like an idea or a religion as opposed to being disrespectful about a group of people, Muslims. The prosecution had argued that Mr. Wilders had indeed been disrespectful of Muslims when he had asked them to tear out all terrible passages of the Koran. Mr. Moszkowicz however claimed it was on the contrary, Mr. Wilders his request was indeed a showing of respect for these people (as he hoped they would remove the terrible things, instead of expecting them to persist in what Mr. Wilders considered terrible believe statements). Just like the prosecutors plea, the important theme of the day was: Mr. Wilders was criticizing Islam, a religion, a political ideology, but not making blanked statements about a group of people: Muslims. Moszkowicz told the court that Mr. Wilders considered Muslims as one of the biggest victim of the Islamic ideology.
A more technical defense argument was that case law used by the prosecutions was created after Mr. Wilders made his statements for which he now is prosecuted. Thus Mr. Wilders had no way of anticipating these new interpretations of the law.
As expected the defense argued strongly in favor of free speech, according to the defense an important ingredient for free and democratic societies. Especially unpopular and descending views need protection according to the defense. Also “the conscious of the believer is not more valuable than that of Wilders”. We should also remember that it’s not that Mr. Wilders wants to be offensive, but the threat he warns against, Islamization, is so grave that firm words are needed.
Mr. Moszkowicz also refers to a plaintiff who said in the trial that Mr. Wilders was the “new Hitler”, Moszkowicz: “Wilders thinks that this idiot may say that, I don’t” (although the court allowed the statements). That was also the beginning of today’s first minor incident as the plaintiff who made the Hitler remarks begins to speak against Mr. Moszkowicz. But the defense lawyer directly counters: “I’m not in conversation with you sir” (I’m addressing the court). The courts presidents reacts very irritated about Moszkowicz his reply and with an angry face he irritated gestures to Moszkowicz that he should only address the court. Not a word against the plaintiff, giving the impression Mr. Moszkowicz pleads in front of a hostile court.
Freedom of religion is considered important. But argued the defense: should freedom of religion not also mean the freedom to be an apostate? It’s this freedom of religion that Mr. Wilders addressed when he wrote the Hitler comparison in an article written together with Ehsan Jami. Ehsan Jami is a well know apostate and Mr. Moszkowicz described how Ehsan Jami has been attacked and injured for his apostasy.
Mr. Moszkowicz also explained that he had advised Mr. Wilder not to testify in court for legal reasons. It was not Mr. Wilders, but his advice that has kept Mr. Wilders silent in court. He criticizes people in the press, who wrote that Mr. Wilders shied away from the debate because he refused to testify. To them Moszkowicz addressed these words: “Those who don’t know the rules of the game, should remain silent”. Noteworthy was the president’s reaction, for the first time the courts president Marcel van Oosten could be seen nodding in agreement with the defense lawyer.
The defense also elaborately cited the expert witnesses, which I cannot repeat here (like many other statements that were made in today’s trial). The defense argued that all experts supported the idea that Islam is on a mission to take over the Western world. Islam is an intolerant religion that only allows conversions to Islam but puts the dead penalty on apostasy. Also several experts described The Netherlands as an Islamic mission country.
Especially interesting has been the testimony of Bill Warner, who has done comparative analysis of the Jew-hatred in Koran and Mein Kampf. His researched showed that Hitler’s Mein Kamp contained 7% of such anti-Semitic passages, while the Koran contained 17% of such passages.
Interesting was also that the defense was citing the words of former Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner who has said that nothing stood in the way to implement Sharia in The Netherlands. All that was needed was a democratic majority. Donner had meant those remarks to appease Muslims into using democratic means for getting sharia implemented. But by doing so he had legitimized sharia as a legal policy option that is not beyond debate.
Today was a day with little interaction between the court and the defense. A noteworthy, but minor interaction with the court happened when Mr. Moszkowicz talked about the conviction of Le Pen. When he told the court he would not quote Le Pen in French, court president Marcel van Oostveen remarked that that was a pity. Apparently the judge is fond on his French skills. Although when Mr. Moszkowicz, said he had the text, the president countered he already knew the text that got Le Pen convicted.
Laughs could also be heard in the court room when President Marcel van Oosten corrected Mr. Moszkowicz for wrongly pronouncing a French word. Moszkowicz agreed and then quickly countered with:
“If you agree with everything that I have said that you did not oppose than my plea was quite strong.”
No laughs this time though and the courts president looked angry.
After the defense quotes several legal experts that were also earlier cited by the prosecution, we near the end of the plea. Then Mr. Moszkowicz relates to the fact that Mr. Wilders is paying the price for what he says and that we shouldn’t forget that and he closes with the words:
“Wilders should be acquitted, because the law requires it, because justice requires it and because it serves democracy.”
Next court day: Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 9:00 CET.