Europe

Dutch lawmaker Wilders wants hate speech case dropped

In this Friday March 18, 2016 file photo Populist anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders shows a picture he took of the photographers as he appeared in court for a pretrial hearing at a high-security court on charges of inciting hatred, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Wilders was in court Friday Sept. 23 for a pre-trial hearing in his hate speech prosecution. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

In this Friday March 18, 2016 file photo Populist anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders shows a picture he took of the photographers as he appeared in court for a pretrial hearing at a high-security court on charges of inciting hatred, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Wilders was in court Friday Sept. 23 for a pre-trial hearing in his hate speech prosecution. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)  (The Associated Press)

Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders is appealing for judges to throw out a hate speech case against him, saying it is a political issue that should not be handled in a criminal court.

At a pretrial hearing Friday in a tightly guarded courtroom, Wilders' lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops said "such sensitive questions should be judged in the court of public opinion."

The case against Wilders, who was acquitted in 2011 of insulting Islam, centers on comments made before and after Dutch local elections in 2014. At one party meeting he asked supporters whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands, drawing them into the chant of "Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!"

"We'll take care of it," he replied.