Mr. President, Members of the Court,
When I decided to address you here today, by making a final statement in this trial against freedom of speech, many people reacted by telling me it is useless. That you, the court, have already written the sentencing verdict a while ago. That everything indicates that you have already convicted me. And perhaps that is true. Nevertheless, here I am. Because I never give up. And I have a message for you and the Netherlands.
For centuries, the Netherlands are a symbol of freedom.
When one says Netherlands, one says freedom. And that is also true, perhaps especially, for those who have a different opinion than the establishment, the opposition. And our most important freedom is freedom of speech.
We, Dutch, say whatever is close to our hearts. And that is precisely what makes our country great. Freedom of speech is our pride.
And that, precisely that, is at stake here, today.
I refuse to believe that we are simply giving this freedom up. Because we are Dutch. That is why we never mince our words. And I, too, will never do that. And I am proud of that. No-one will be able to silence me.
Moreover, members of the court, for me personally, freedom of speech is the only freedom I still have. Every day, I am reminded of that. This morning, for example. I woke up in a safe-house. I got into an armored car and was driven in a convoy to this high security courtroom at Schiphol. The bodyguards, the blue flashing lights, the sirens. Every day again. It is hell. But I am also intensely grateful for it.
Because they protect me, they literally keep me alive, they guarantee the last bit of freedom left to me: my freedom of speech. The freedom to go somewhere and speak about my ideals, my ideas to make the Netherlands — our country — stronger and safer. After twelve years without freedom, after having lived for safety reasons, together with my wife, in barracks, prisons and safe-houses, I know what lack of freedom means.
I sincerely hope that this will never happen to you, members of the court. That, unlike me, you will never have to be protected because Islamic terror organizations, such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS, and who knows how many individual Muslims, want to murder you. That you will no longer be allowed to empty your own mailbox, need to carry a bulletproof vest at meetings, and that there are police officers guarding the door whenever you use the bathroom. I hope you will be spared this.
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