Muslims: Dutch MP a danger
The Hague - Muslims told judges trying anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders for hate speech on Monday that he was dangerous, dividing a multicultural society that used to co-habit peacefully.
"Mr Wilders is a dangerous ideologist who has divided Dutch society," Naoual Abaida, a trainee lawyer with a native Dutch mother and Moroccan father, told the court.
"I am asking you to protect me as a Muslim and a Moroccan against Mr Wilders," she said, referring to his "Islam-bashing" and "insulting, polarising language".
Wilders, 47, went on trial on October 4 for inciting hatred by calling Islam "fascist" and likening the Qur'an to Hitler's Mein Kampf.
The prosecution service asked the court for his acquittal last Friday, saying his criticism, though hurtful, was not criminal.
On Monday, lawyers for Wilders' accusers - a group of individuals from around the country - asked for a guilty verdict and a symbolic damages award of €1.
"We are the daily target of xenophobic statements," Mohamed Rabbae, politician and activist, told the judges as Wilders looked on, occasionally lifting his eyebrows or making faces.
"Our children have become unsure about their future (...) in this climate of discrimination, hate and enmity as propagated by Mr Wilders."
This in turn caused "anger, bitterness and a deepening of the divide between Muslims and native Dutch", said Rabbae.
In June 2008, the prosecution service dismissed dozens of complaints against the politician, citing his right to freedom of speech.
But appeals judges ordered in January 2009 that he stand trial as his utterances amounted to "sowing hatred" - compelling the prosecution to mount a case against him.
Wilders, who will give parliamentary support to a new, rightist coalition government inaugurated last Thursday, risks up to a year in prison or a €7 600 fine for comments made during his campaign to "stop the Islamisation of the Netherlands".
Wilders' defence lawyer will make his case on Tuesday and Friday.
Judgment is expected on November 5.