A small victory for free speech in Europe: right-wing (or, if you’re the BBC, ‘far-right’) Dutch politician Geert Wilders has been cleared of inciting hatred against Muslims.
It should never have come to this, of course. Wilders may have angered Muslims by likening Islam to fascism and the Koran to Mein Kampf, but expressing opinions that some find offensive is not the same thing as inciting hatred. But, as is generally the case in Europe these days, those who called for Wilders to be prosecuted were determined to silence him, partly out of knee-jerk political correctness, and partly because they feared his remarks might provoke a violent response from Muslims – which of course rather helps to make Wilders’ point for him.
Wilders insisted, quite rightly, that his remarks were part of a legitimate debate; unfortunately it’s a debate that European societies and their leaders don’t want to have, which is why Islamic extremism has been allowed to fester across the continent.
The court’s decision doesn’t, as an idiotic piece of analysis attached to the BBC’s report suggests, mean the famously tolerant Dutch people have suddenly become less so. It does mean they should now feel more free to speak out against extremists in their midst whose ideology is blatantly intolerant.