Leader of the Netherlands’ far-right Freedom Party Geert Wilders was found guilty of hate speech on Friday and plans to appeal the verdict ahead of his run for Prime Minister of the country in March.
Wilders’ conviction stems from a 2014 incident when he led chants at a rally expressing the desire for fewer Moroccans in his country, a sentiment shared by about half of Dutch people surveyed, according to The Washington Post. The Moroccans Wilders referenced were refugees, and Wilders and others in his party were concerned about incidents like those in other parts of Europe where Muslim refugees harassed, groped, and even assaulted European women in large groups.
Although Wilders was convicted of insulting an ethnic group and inciting discrimination, no sentence was imposed on him by the court. Due to insufficient evidence, he was not convicted on a separate charge of inciting hatred.
Wilders’ Freedom Party is leading recent polls in the race for Prime Minister, which will take place in March.
Wilders said on Twitter before the verdict that he would “continue to speak the truth about the Moroccan problem. No judge, politician or terrorist will stop me,” CNN reported.
Wilders previously said of Islamic immigration that it was “an invasion” that would replace his people and “erase” the culture, CNN said. Wilders’ other intended policies include a full burqa ban and a referendum on membership of the Netherlands in the European Union.
In 2011, Wilders was acquitted of similar charges after saying he wanted the Quran banned in the Netherlands.
The far-right politician has been called the Netherlands’ Donald Trump for his anti-immigration views.
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