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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.

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Wilders’s populist Freedom Party, which became the nation’s third-largest following the June elections, has already agreed to back a new conservative government headed by the free market VVD party.

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Rebel Christian Democratic Alliance (CDA) legislators Kathleen Ferrier and Ad Koppejan offered their support Tuesday for the new coalition, removing the last hurdle to establishing The Netherlands’ first postwar minority government.

Ms. Ferrier and Mr. Koppejan had blocked the deal, arguing any partnership involving Wilders’s party would be unworkable because of the charismatic politician’s perceived intolerance toward other religions, particularly Islam.

With 76 seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament, a three-party coalition involving the VVD, the CDA, and Wilders’s PVV party would be able to govern.

During Monday’s court appearance, Wilders refused to apologize for his utterances, saying he was only "stating my opinion in the context of public debate."

The ruling, which was originally set for Nov. 2, when The Netherlands commemorates the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim extremist, will be delivered two days later. A court official said the postponement had nothing to do with the commemorations. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail or a fine of up to 10,000 euros.

Wilders, who receives regular police protection, broke away from the VVD party in 2005 after it backed Turkey’s European Union membership.

“The Islamization of Europe continues all the time,” Wilders said in a speech in Berlin Sunday. “But the West has no strategy for dealing with the Islamic ideology, because our elites say that we must adapt to them, rather than the other way round.”

When formed, the new government intends to curb immigration from non-Western countries on Wilders’s recommendations. Plans to ban the burqa are also on the table. Tougher laws on asylum-seekers will be implemented while state funding for obligatory citizenship classes will be withdrawn.

Andeweg doubts the new government will be able to implement all of Wilders’s policies, and warns that any government involving Wilders won’t be stable.

“The Netherlands is bound by international treaties,” he says. “It’s a risk going with Wilders.”

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