Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
AMSTERDAM - Anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders will be prosecuted in the Netherlands for alleged discrimination and inciting hatred against Moroccans during election campaigning in March, prosecutors said on Thursday.
The charges stem from an incident in The Hague, when Wilders led an anti-Moroccan chant in a cafe, which was broadcast nationally and prompted 6,400 complaints to the police.
Wilders asked supporters if they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in their city, triggering the chant: "Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!." A smiling Wilders responded: "We'll take care of that."
In a later TV interview, he referred to "Moroccan scum."
The prosecution statement on Thursday said Wilders, whose Party for Freedom (PVV) tops the opinion polls in the Netherlands, will face charges of "insulting a specific group based on race and inciting discrimination and hatred."
Politicians may go far in their comments under the right to free speech, prosecutors said, but "that freedom is limited by the prohibition of discrimination."
Wilders appeared unrepentant on Thursday, saying he had spoken "the truth."
"I said what millions of people think and believe," he said in a statement. "The public prosecutors should be going after jihadis instead of me. The PVV is the largest party in the polls and the elite apparently doesn't like it."
Prosecutors had initially appeared reluctant to press charges after losing a similar trial against Wilders in 2007.
Legal experts have argued they have a stronger case this time around because he specifically targeted Moroccans, rather than the religion of Islam.
Wilders, whose anti-Islam views have made him the target of death threats and who lives under 24-hour police protection, refused to respond to questioning when he was summoned by police to discuss the incident earlier this month.
He had said he expected prosecutors to drop the charges. It is not yet known when the case will go to court.