Dutch Muslims want anti-Islam lawmaker convicted

October 19, 2010

AMSTERDAM (AP) – Muslim witnesses said Monday that a Dutch lawmaker's anti-Islamic comments had led to attacks and intimidation, and they pleaded with judges to convict him and give him a symbolic fine of one euro ($1.40).

Geert Wilders is facing charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims for statements that include comparing Islam with Nazism and calling for banning the Quran and taxing Muslim scarves. His trial has been seen as testing the limits of free speech.
Prosecutors last week acknowledged they have failed to prove the case against him and called for his acquittal. But the judges may disagree, and their verdict is expected Nov. 5.
“Arson. Attempted arson. Vandalism. Disturbances. Incivility to people attending mosques. Obscenities. Intimidating behavior — they have all become everyday occurrences” as a result of Wilders' public remarks, said Mohammed Enait, speaking for an alliance of Dutch mosques that had asked to testify as victims in the case.
Enait said Dutch Muslims have suffered tangible damage as a result of Wilders' repeated negative remarks about Islam. He said there are countless incidences of “children being cursed at while they walk. Stories from women ... who are spit upon, mocked because they wear headscarves.”
Enait, who is from Rotterdam, said the mosque he attended as a child had been burned down.
Dozens of mosques in the Netherlands were burned in 2004 in apparent retaliatory attacks after the killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an radical who is now serving a life sentence.
Since then, such burnings have become less common but other incidents continue.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance found that there has been a “dramatic increase in 'Islamophobia' in the Netherlands” since 2000.