Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Freedom of Speech: The Wilders Trial

Bruce Bawer examines the trial of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands:

Today—January 20, 2010—the Dutch establishment’s most serious effort yet against Wilders gets under way, as he is forced to go to criminal court to defend his right to speak his mind. Wilders is, of course, not the first European to face legal action for criticizing Islam; such luminaries as Oriana Fallaci and Brigitte Bardot also appear on that honor roll. But Wilders’s case nonetheless feels unprecedented. To read the official summons addressed to him—a sitting member of the Dutch Parliament and the head of a major Dutch political party—is all but surreal. It is to feel as if one has been hurled back into a distant, pre-Enlightenment era; it is to feel that in one fell swoop, the illusion of freedom in Europe has been extinguished. (An English translation is available here.)

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