Far-right leader tears up Koran during trial in the Netherlands

Far-right leader tears up Koran during trial in the Netherlands
Credit: Belga

The head of the Dutch anti-Muslim organization Pegida, Edwin Wagensveld, tore up a second copy of the Holy Koran on Thursday afternoon in court at the opening of his trial in The Hague. He then left the courtroom.

Wagensveld is on trial for collective insult, which he reportedly perpetrated on 22 January this year, when he tore up a first copy of the Koran near the Dutch parliament, calling it a fascist book.

“I’m also tearing it up here, in the courtroom. This is the first time in the world that a Koran has been torn up in court,” Wagensveld said on Thursday.

Afterwards, he refused to respond to the judges and left the room. “It’s a puppet show,” he asserted before shouting in the doorway “F–ck Islam!”

The court decided to continue the proceedings without the suspect’s presence.

In the run-up to his trial, Wagensveld had already torn pages from the Muslim religious book in public. Equipped with a megaphone, he gave a five-minute speech during which police watched him swing an edition of the Koran attached to a leash. He then claimed that a trial would not prevent him from continuing to tear Korans to pieces.

“I’ve been arrested dozens of times. Each time, it turned out to be unjust. Today, too, I’ll show that I don’t care and that I’ll continue to stop this ‘Islamic fascism,’ he said.”

He claimed that hatred of Jews, oppression of women and homophobia were all to be blamed on the Islamic faith.

Tearing a copy of the Koran to shreds is not punishable by law in the Netherlands. The act is assimilated to criticism of a faith. On the other hand, intentionally insulting a group of people for their religion or philosophy is prohibited by law.

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