(CNN) -- Controversial Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders appeared in court Wednesday on charges of inciting discrimination and hatred that relate in part to his much-criticized film about Islam.
Wednesday's session at the Court of Amsterdam was a pre-trial hearing and a full trial was due to begin later this year. A court spokesman said the hearing was expected to last one day but could stretch into Thursday.
Wilders, who heads the Dutch Party for Freedom, said he has done nothing wrong. "I will fight," he promised in a statement Tuesday on the party's Web site.
Prosecutors initially decided not to pursue the case, saying in June 2008 that Wilders' statements were not liable to punishment, the Public Prosecutions Service said. They said that even though Wilders' comments were "defamatory and hurtful to a great number of Muslims," they fell within the limits of free speech.
AMSTERDAM -- Supporters of Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders are demonstrating outside an Amsterdam court where he is appearing to answer charges of inciting hate against the Netherlands' Muslim minority.
Wilders' lawyer Bram Moszkowicz has challenged the court's jurisdiction and argued the case against his client is unfounded.
Wilders has been charged over remarks comparing the Quran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and calling for it to be banned in the Netherlands. He has become one of the country's leading politicians by giving a voice to anti-immigrant sentiment.
Presiding Judge Jan Moors assured Wilders on Wednesday he would receive a fair trial. Supporters outside the court said Wilders' prosecution is an assault on freedom of speech.
In the summer of 2008, as many readers know, I traveled to six European countries to interview politicians dedicated to breaking, halting and/or reversing the Islamization of their countries (here is a collection of some of the writings inspired by the trip).
One of those politicians was Geert Wilders, then the little-known (outside of the Netherlands) leader of a very small party, PVV, the Party for Freedom. Only a year and a half later, Wilders is the most famous Dutchman in the world, and his party rivals the current ruling party in popularity. Wilders is also now on trial for his political life and liberty -- hardly a coincidence.