The criminal case against Geert Wilders appears to be unraveling.

Wilders, the controversial Dutch lawmaker and filmmaker known for his outspoken stances against Islam, was facing prosecution in his home country for allegedly inciting racial hatred. But prosecutors in the case said Friday they've asked the court to drop the charges.

The prosecutors now say that Wilders was targeting the religion, not Muslim individuals, and he has some leeway as a lawmaker to make statements about social problems, Reuters reported.

Earlier this month, Wilders appealed for freedom of expression and then exercised his right to silence as the trial began, at a time when his popularity and influence in the Netherlands are near all-time highs.

Wilders has compared Islam to Nazism and called for a ban on the Koran. He argues he has a right to freedom of speech and that his remarks were within the bounds of the law.

Immigration-related issues have dominated politics in the Netherlands and much of Europe over the past decade. Wilders has drawn comparisons with populists such as the late Jorg Haider in Austria and Jean-Marie Le Pen in France.

His stances resound deeply with Dutch voters, who have reconsidered their famous tolerance amid fears their own culture is being eroded by immigrants who don't share their values. Around 6 percent of the Dutch population is now Muslim.

Among Wilders' many remarks at issue in the trial, an editorial in newspaper De Volkskrant stands out.

"I've had enough of Islam in the Netherlands; let not one more Muslim immigrate," he wrote in the paper. "I've had enough of the Koran in the Netherlands: Forbid that fascist book."

The flamboyant, bleach-blond politician also has called for taxing clothing commonly worn by Muslims, such as head scarves -- or "head rags," as he called them -- because they "pollute" the Dutch landscape.

He may be best known for the 2008 short film "Fitna," which offended Muslims around the world by juxtaposing Koranic verses with images of terrorism by Islamic radicals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.