A fond farewell – Defend Geert Wilders is shutting down

22 03 2011

I’ve been working my way up to this post for almost two years.

You see, ever since Defend Geert Wilders got started way back in January of 2009, I meant for it to be a place where anybody interested in the Geert Wilders prosecution could go to find the information they needed to find. That’s why we have an archive of coverage with many, many links saved and ready for browsing. Meanwhile, we put up pages where those who wished to do so could sign a petition against Geert Wilders’ prosecution, or even donate to his legal fund.

In short, this site was meant to be a one-stop-shop for news and views on the Geert Wilders prosecution. Round-ups of coverage, highlighting bits of opinion here and there. Bits of original opinion and coverage thrown in. I like to think I was at least partially successful, and that this site will serve well as a jumping-off point for those who wish to know more about Holland’s never-ending Wilders scandal.

This was not a non-partisan website. While I have, and maintain no, affiliation with Geert Wilders himself, this site supports his right to freedom of speech in Holland. As I explained in our ‘About‘ page:

The last time that I checked, a religion, be it Islam, or Christianity, or Hinduism, or whathaveyou, was not able to set the tone for what discourse is and is not acceptable. If religion is setting the pace now, in Holland, then that is not acceptable.

At this point, I am not even sure if this is merely about the conflict between religion, speech, and politics in Holland’s court system. I think it is about that very court system itself, the chaos that it is currently throwing itself into, and the direction that it will choose to take in the future. I suspect that in time, Geert Wilders will be merely a footnote in Dutch history. The direction that Holland’s court system will take in the years to come will have much more impact than simply one man and one party ( the PVV ).

I am not particularly supportive of Geert Wilders himself. I don’t like his stances on all issues – indeed, even most of them. I don’t like his style of rhetoric. I don’t like the way that he ignores the distinction between Islam and Islamism, between the politics and the religion. He is helping to bring Holland into a much-needed debate, but that does not make him right in everything that he says. We should not be too quick to make a hero out of Geert Wilders just yet.

I’ve come to these conclusions over the two-year ( or so ) period during which I ran Defend Geert Wilders. I caught a lot of heat for my support for his freedom of speech, which is fine, and I spent countless hours updating this site, which is also fine. It was a tiring, troublesome venture at times, but I like to think it was ultimately worthwhile.

However, every so often I would renew a promise to myself: that I would shut down this blog whenever the Wilders case came to a close. I was determined to follow this thing through. But the case never ended. It went on…and on. Then the trial collapsed in upon itself completely and a new trial sprang from its ashes…and is now itself dragging on. Perhaps this trial will collapse as well.

Meanwhile, I get busier and busier, I have less and less time to keep this site up-to-date, and my mind gets occupied with other projects. And I cannot help but feel that now is as good a time as any to put this particular project to an end. It’s been great. We had some fun, far too few laughs, and contributed to an important debate. But now it’s time to go.

I have no intention of pulling down the site. Defend Geert Wilders will stay up, its content archived for posterity. I’ll let the comments run for the rest of the week, and then those will be shut down so as to make things neat and tidy.

You’ve all been great – even the haters. Be sure to turn the lights out after you leave.



Update: And with that, I think now is as good a time as any to close down the comments. It’s been real. Take care of yourselves out there, dear readers.

‘Supreme Court Paved the Way for Conviction of Wilders’

19 03 2011

From NIS News Bulletin:

AMSTERDAM, 18/03/11 – The president of the Supreme Court last November restricted freedom of speech, as a result of which it could have been easier for other judges to get Party for Freedom MP Geert Wilders convicted. So, at least, suggests TV programme Uitgesproken WNL.

The Supreme Court ruled on 23 November that a T-shirt with the slogan Combat18 constituted incitement to hatred and was therefore forbidden. According to WNL, the president of the Supreme Court, Geert Corstens, was personally co-responsible for this verdict.

The Combat 18 verdict offers a handle for being able to convict Wilders of incitement to hatred, according to lawyer Gerard Spong. Spong, who is not a party to the Wilders court case, said that Corstens gives the impression with the verdict that he wants to achieve an accounting with the PVV leader “via the back door.”

Read the rest.

Healthcare worker pledge will be ‘very difficult’ to meet: minister

19 03 2011

From DutchNews.nl:

It will be ‘very difficult’ to meet the cabinet’s pledge to boost the number of healthcare workers by 12,000 by 2015, health minister Edith Schippers told RTLZ news on Wednesday.

‘There is no tin of nurses or carers that you can just open,’ Schippers said. ‘You have to train them.’

The commitment to employ 12,000 new care workers was made in the coalition agreement, largely at the behest of Geert Wilders’ PVV.

Read the rest.

Geert Wilders’ trial to go ahead after objections brushed aside

19 03 2011

From Monsters & Critics:

Dutch politician Geert Wilders’ trial on charges of hate speech can go ahead after objections were brushed aside by the Public Prosecutor, Dutch news agency ANP reported Wednesday.The trial had been adjourned on Monday after the lawyer of the populist anti-Islam politician questioned the partiality of the judges and claimed the court was ‘not qualified’.

Wilders’ lawyer Bram Moszkowicz had argued that his client was being accused of ‘far more than was included in the formal charges, which mention hatemongering, discrimination and insulting a section of the population (muslims)’.

A second objection, that the Amsterdam court was not qualified to try him in this case, was rejected as the alleged offences were committed in Amsterdam.

This is Wilders’ second trial over allegations that he incited hatred of Muslims.

Read the rest. More from Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

Wilders’ lawyer claims judges “not impartial”: trial adjourned

16 03 2011

From Monsters & Critics:

Amsterdam – Geert Wilders’ trial on charges of hate speech has been adjourned after the lawyer of the Dutch anti-Islamist politician, Bram Moszkowicz, questioned the partiality of its judges, Dutch public radio NOS reported Monday.

Wilders is facing a second trial over allegations that he incited hatred of Muslims.

A previous trial on the same charges collapsed in October after a judicial review found the judges to be biased.

The latest trial has been adjourned to Wednesday to allow the court to consider the lawyer’s claim, NOS radio reported.

Read the rest.

D66 flirting with PVV in Limburg

16 03 2011

From NIS News Bulletin:

THE HAGUE, 15/03/11 – In the Lower House, centre-left D66 is the sharpest critic of the Party for Freedom (PVV), but in Limburg, the party is prepared to cooperate with the anti-Islam movement of Geert Wilders.

The PVV emerged as the biggest party in Limburg in the Upper House elections on 2 March. These elections were also for the provincial council members. The initial talks have begun in the coalition formation for a new provincial administration.

The conservatives (VVD) have already indicated they see a coalition with the PVV and the Christian democrats (CDA) as viable. What is surprising is that D66 also sees possibilities for joining a coalition.

The leader of D66 Limburg, Jeffrey Vossen, has “found that D66 and PVV are quite often in agreement.” He does add that there are “of course some differences.”

Read the rest.

Defence minister’s popularity rating plummets

16 03 2011

From Radio Netherlands Worldwide:

The popularity ratings of Defence Minister Hans Hillen, Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal and Education Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt have in recent months fallen sharply, a weekly survey shows.

Over the past four months, Defence Minister Hillen, a Christian Democrat, has suffered the worst drop in popularity, from -4 to -23 percent, leaving him at the very bottom of the list. Foreign Minister Rosenthal and Education Minister Van Bijsterveldt, of the liberal VVD party, saw their ratings tumble from -5 to -19 percent.

Read the rest.