A Dutch court has rejected an appeal by firebrand anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders to throw out his hate speech prosecution before it goes to trial.

Wilders and his lawyers had branded his prosecution a political witch hunt. Wilders did not attend the brief hearing Friday at The Hague District Court.

Presiding Judge Hendrik Steenhuis said the court "rejects the defense's objections."

The case against Wilders, who was previously 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.

Wilders' trial is scheduled to start Oct. 31.