The Netherlands

Religions arent people

Dutch Chief Public Prosecutor Leo de Wit told the Dutch media on Monday he will not prosecute legislator Geert Wilders for remarks he made about Islam. Although Wilders remarks were offensive to Muslims, he was talking about Islam as a religion and not Muslims as individuals and, therefore, did not violate Dutch discrimination legislation nor incite to violence.

Attorney Els Lucas and the group of Muslims who filed the complaint with the police last summer said they would now request the Dutch court go through a special legal procedure, called Article 12, to force the justice department to prosecute Wilders after all.

The Nekschot Cartoons

Nobodys Business (via) has scans of the eight cartoons Gregorius Nekschot was forced to remove from his website.

It has to be said that these cartoons are crass, crude, gratuitous and not particularly original. It also has to be said that neither crassness, crudeness, gratuitousness nor a lack of originality are valid reasons for going around arresting cartoonists.

So on with the show
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Ballin: I support freedom of speech, but

Dutch Justice Minister, Ernst Hirsch Ballin came in for a verbal kicking during Tuesdays debate on the Gregorius Nekschot affair. The opposition fiercely criticised the cartoonists arrest and the search of his house last week, with independent MP Rita Verdonk remarking: This isnt Iran; this is The Netherlands in 2008.

The press has also weighed in, with De Telegraaf reporting the debate under the headline Stasi tactics and De Volkskrant making their views known by printing three of the cartoons. On Wednesday, HP/De Tijd printed all eight of the cartoons which the Public Prosecutor claims are criminal.

The left-wing daily quotes the leader of the opposition VVD as saying, this was a political arrest adding there is increasing government pressure on freedom of expression and Christian Democrat politicians are behind it

Ballin claimed in the debate that he strongly supports freedom of speech, but that he also supports the Public Prosecutors Offices decision to prosecute people for exercising it.

Before the debate, VVD leader Mark Rutte blamed the ruling CDA (Christian Democrats) for the mess. It is time the CDA came to their senses, and publicly support one of the most important basic rights in our country, he declared, because it appears that the CDA is prepared to sacrifice freedom of speech at the altar of standards and values.

Nekschot: Convicted but not charged

The Dutch public prosecution said on Friday that pseudonymous Dutch cartoonist, Gregorius Nekschot has produced at least eight cartoons that violate Dutch anti-discrimination legislation and that incite people to commit violence. So confident are they of this view that theyre not saying whether he will be charged or prosecuted.

The eight cartoons in question have now been removed from Nekschots website.

The arrest of the cartoonist on Wednesday, and the search for his sponsor follows, an investigation by the public prosecutor after imam Abdul Jabbar van de Ven, a well-known Dutch convert to Islam, filed a complaint about Nekschots cartoons in 2005.

Solidarity with Gregorius Nekschot

Via MediaWatchWatch

Controversial cartoonist arrested for being controversial

Pseudonymous Dutch cartoonist, Gregorius Nekschot, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of insulting people because of their race or religion through his work. He was held overnight before being released.

Nekschot is known primarily for cartoons mocking Muslims and leftists, though the spokeswoman said he is a satirist who targets any strong ideology.

Amsterdam public prosecutor spokeswoman Sanne van Meteren said Nekschot remains a suspect in a criminal investigation.

We suspect him of insulting people on the basis of their race or belief, and possibly also of inciting hate, she said.

Each is a crime punishable by up to a year in prison under Dutch hate speech laws — or two years for multiple offenses.

According to Van Meteren, prosecutors were investigating a complaint that dated from 2005. They are now focusing on eight or nine published cartoons, she said, but prosecutors are not disclosing which ones.

Judge clears Wilders of spreading hate

In a case brought by the Dutch Islamic Federation, a judge has ruled that MP Geert Wilders is not guilty of spreading hate.

This is not related to Fitna but to remarks he made back in August comparing the Koran to Mein Kampf and calling Islam a fascist religion. The judge ruled that, although Wilders statements were provocative, members of parliament have to be able to express their opinions strongly.

Fitna bandwagon update

The Fitna bandwagon just keeps on rolling. Indonesia are leading the pack at the moment, banning broadcasts of the film and barring Geert Wilders from entering the country.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged fellow Muslims in the country on Monday night not to use violence, vandalism or conduct a sweep against opponents in protests against the film, saying Islam and other religions never allow such a way.

But he also insisted that world leaders have a moral obligation to prevent religious or cultural defamation, which they dont.

In Malaysia, the countrys national religious council called the film an insult it Islam and called for a boycott of Dutch products.

And a group of 53 Jordanian MPs have delivered a petition to their government in Amman, demanding that it break all diplomatic ties with the Netherlands. They also want the Dutch ambassador expelled from the country.

Hair today, gone tomorrow

After endless speculation, threats and attempts to ban it, Geert Wilders Fitna was released on Liveleak on Thursday. And now it isnt.

Instead, Liveleak are now showing The Removal of Fitna Official Liveleak Statement

Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, and some ill informed reports from certain corners of the British media that could directly affect the safety of some staff members, Liveleak has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers.

This is a sad day for freedom of speech on the net but we have to place the safety and well being of our staff above all else. We would like to thank the thousands of people, from all backgrounds and religions, who gave us their support. They realised is a vehicle for many opinions and not just for the support of one.

perhaps there is still hope that this situation may produce a discussion that could benefit and educate all of us as to how we can accept one anothers culture.

We stood for what we believe in but, the ability to be heard, but in the end the price was too high

Ex-Muslim releases film. Faces censorship

Geert Wilders is not the only Dutch politician making a foray into filmmaking. Ehsan Jami, the Labour Party councillor and founder of the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims, announced in October of last year that he was working on a film project that could turn out to be as controversial as the Mo-Toons.

Yesterday he told the current affairs programme Netwerk that the animated film that will be released on 20th April. Inevitably enough, CMO, the Contact body for Muslims and the Government, has said they will take legal steps to try and prevent the film from being shown.

Elsewhere, Geert Wilders has responded accusations that he is avoiding discussion with opponents by calling for a debate with opponents and supporters after the presentation of his film Fitna.