Dutch Court Acquits Anti-Islam Lawmaker

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A court in the Netherlands found populist politician Geert Wilders 'not guilty' of hate speech against Muslims Thursday.

Wilders has said that Islam is "'inherently violent" and compared the Koran to Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf."

Prosecutors said his words incited hatred and religious discrimination against Muslims.

However, presiding judge Marcel van Oosten said that while Wilders' statements are offensive, they fall in the context of legitimate political debate.

"I'm incredibly happy with this acquittal on all counts," Wilders said outside the courtroom Thursday. "It's not only an acquittal for me, but a victory for freedom of expression in the Netherlands.

"Fortunately you're allowed to discuss Islam in public debate and you're not muzzled in public debate," he continued. "An enormous burden has fallen from my shoulders."
    
Prosecutor Ties Prakken said the Dutch legal system had failed to protect religious minorities and said she plans to take the case to U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

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