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Geert Wilders hate speech trial to resume in Netherlands

The trial of far-right politician Geert Wilders, charged with inciting hatred against Muslims, will continue Wednesday in the Netherlands. His lawyer caused a delay, saying the judge was biased.

By Bruce MutsvairoCorrespondent / October 5, 2010

Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders (r.) and his lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz await the start of his trial inside the courtroom in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Oct. 4.

Marcel Antonisse/AP

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

A special panel of judges rejected Tuesday claims of judicial bias raised by Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders, who is facing charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.

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Mr. Wilders’s trial is now set to resume Wednesday morning led by the same presiding judge, whose impartiality was questioned by the vocally anti-Islam lawmaker when the trial opened Monday morning.

“There is no substantial evidence to show that the judges have given the impression of being biased, therefore the request is being denied,” said Frans Bauduin, one of the review judges.

During Monday’s proceedings, Judge Jan Moors said Wilders had made a name for his bold statements. “It appears you are doing that again,” Judge Moors said, prompting protests from Wilders’s lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz.

Criticizing the Quran

Wilders was charged after he compared Islam’s holy book, the Quran, to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The Quran was a “fascist” book, Wilders wrote in newspaper editorial in 2007.

“He is trying to turn the court into a podium for his political activities,” says Rudy Andeweg, a professor of Dutch politics at Leiden University. “He enjoys the attention. He wants a political trial but judges won’t have that.”

“Judges will not give Wilders any special treatment,” Andeweg adds. “They just treat him as any other citizen, which is what it has to be.”

Considered by some as political heir to Pim Fortuyn, who was murdered in broad daylight in 2002, Wilders has gained momentum as one of Europe’s leading anti-Muslim voices.

His popularity base has also expanded over the years as voters take a cue from his tough stance against immigration.

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