The following is the opening statement by Geert Wilders in his trial for ‘incitement to hatred’, ‘discrimination’, and ‘insulting Muslims,’ now taking place in the Netherlands.
Mr. President, members of the court, I would like to only use a few minutes of my right to speak.
And I would like to begin by saying that of all our attainments, freedom is the most precious and most vulnerable. It is what people have dedicated their lives to and what people have given their lives for. Our freedom in this country is the fruit of centuries. It is the result of a history that has no equal and has brought us to where we are today.
I believe with all my heart and soul that the freedom is threatened in the Netherlands. That heritage, which generations could only dream of, is precisely this freedom which is no longer a given fact, no longer a matter self-evidence.
I dedicate my life to defending our freedom. I know what the risks are and I every day again, pay the price for that. I do not complain about it; it is my own decision. I see it as my duty and therefore I am standing here today.
I know that the words I use are sometimes tough, but they are never reckless. It is not my intention to spare the ideology of conquest and destruction, but neither do I intend to offend people.
I have nothing against Muslims. I have a problem with the Islam and the Islamization of our country because Islam is at right angles to freedom.
Future generations will wonder how we, in 2010, at this location, in this room, served our most precious asset. Whether the freedom is for both sides in this debate and thus also for Islam-critics. Or whether in the Netherlands only one side of the debate may be heard. Whether freedom of speech in the Netherlands applies to everyone, or only to some.
The answer to that is immediately also the answer to the question whether freedom still has a home in this country.
Freedom has but never been owned by a small group, but has always been the heritage of us all. We have all been blessed by it.
Lady Justice wears a blindfold, but she can hear perfectly well, she can listen perfectly well. And I hope she, Lady Justice, will hear the following phrases sound, loud and clear:
“It is not only the right, but also the duty of free people to speak out against any ideology that threatens freedom.”
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, was right:
“The price for freedom is eternal vigilance.”
I hope with all I have in me that freedom of expression in this trial will prevail. Not only that I will be acquitted, but that the freedom of speech will continue to exist.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, members of the court. In this trial it of course is about the freedom of expression. But in this trial it is certainly also about finding the truth. The statements I have made, the comparisons I have drawn — are they true? As mentioned in the summons? Because if something is true, how can it be illegal?
Therefore I ask you strongly not only to grant my request for the hearing of witnesses and experts in the field of freedom of speech. But I also ask you explicitly to honor my requests for the hearing of witnesses and experts on the field of Islam, all in full publicity. I hereby am not only referring to the gentleman Jansen and Admiraal but also on the expert witnesses from Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries. Preferably, all.
I must have the ability to defend myself. I must prove you that I have spoken the truth, please do not obstruct me from that. Because without these witnesses, I cannot defend myself well and in my view it will be out of the question that this is a fair trial.