The Utrecht public prosecutor’s office announced today that it intends to prosecute the Arab European League (AEL) on hate speech charges under Dutch Law for re-publishing the above cartoon on its website.
When the cartoon first appeared last month, the public prosecutor’s office threatened to charge the group if it did not remove the cartoon. The cartoon was punishable, Dutch prosecutors warned, “because it offends Jews on the basis of their race and/or religion.”
Subsequently, the same prosecutor’s office ruled that the Danish Mohammed cartoons were not offensive to Muslims as a group and were not an incitement to discrimination or violence against them. It declared that the Danish cartoons publication
on Geert Wilders website in 2006 had not violated Dutch law. Nor had the TV programme Nova, which also showed the cartoons.
AEL responded to what it declared to be a double-standard on freedom of expression, and re-posted the Holocaust cartoon.
The Utrecht prosecutor’s office said charge have been filed against AEL for “insulting a group and distributing an insulting image.” The maximum penalty under Dutch Law is a year in prison, but the prosecutor’s office stated that a fine of up to euro4,700 ($6,700) would be a more likely penalty when charges are filed against an organization.
I find it interesting to reflect that long ago, during the period of the European wars of religion, the Dutch port cities used to represent a refuge of tolerance sought by heretics of all descriptions and a publishing center beyond the reach of repressive ecclesiastical authorities. Contemporary political correctness clearly has a longer reach than the Council of Geneva or the Holy Office of Rome. Benedict Spinoza could peacefully grind lenses in Rijnsburg or The Hague, despite having offended the Jewish community with his “abominable heresies and monstrous acts.”
It was touch and go clearly on whether one could publish a cartoon expressing mild derision of the Muslim prophet. There can be no doubt that questioning the Holocaust is an intolerable heresy. Good thing the stake is also politically incorrect.