"Dutch prosecutors asked judges Friday to acquit anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders on all charges of inciting hate and discrimination against Muslims, in a case seen as testing the limits of free speech versus religious freedom.
The move by prosecutors signalled their belief the case against Wilders was weak, although judges could still disagree and convict him. The defence begins its case next week and a verdict is scheduled for next month.
The case is being closely watched in many European countries, where immigration has created a backlash of anti-Muslim sentiment and boosted nationalist parties that are outspokenly negative toward Islam and Muslims.
Muslims complained to Dutch authorities that Wilders crossed the line when, among many slurs, he compared Islam to Naziism and the Qur’an to Hitler's manifesto, Mein Kampf.
Prosecutors told the court that Wilders' statements may be "hurtful" or "insulting" to Muslims, but there was insufficient proof to convict him of trying to polarize Dutch society into antagonistic groups. He has never called for violence.
Wilders, who had frowned throughout Friday's hearing, broke into a wide smile as the prosecutors concluded by running through the charges against him and asking for acquittal on each.