It appears that Gregorius Nekschot’s situation is going to get a hearing in the Dutch Parliament. There is, thankfully, concern about the right to free speech, and the way in which this was handled by the police and judiciary:
A broad Lower House majority yesterday requested an interlocutory debate on the arrest of cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot.
Labour (PvdA), the Socialist Party (SP), the conservatives (VVD), Party for Freedom (PVV), leftwing Greens (GroenLinks) and independent MP Rita Verdonk all backed a request by centre-left D66 for a debate. As well as Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, Education Minister Ronald Plasterk will be called to account. He is responsible for culture and media policy.
The Christian democrats (CDA) and small Christian party ChristenUnie are much less critical than the Lower House majority, which considers that freedom of speech is at risk. SP, VVD, PVV and Verdonk in particular are enraged by Nekschot’s arrest.
VVD leader Mark Rutte primarily blamed the CDA ahead of the debate yesterday. “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.” The PVV described the arrest as the first-ever arrest of a cartoonist in the modern Western world.
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Gregorius Nekschot was arrested last week and kept in custody for 30 hours for cartoons that are “discriminatory against Muslims and people of darker skin”, as the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) in Amsterdam put it. Nekschot (‘Neck Shot’) has confirmed reports that around 10 police dragged him out of his home in Amsterdam, seized his computer and telephone and told him his real name would be revealed.
The arrest was particularly remarkable because it followed a complaint dating from 2005. The complaint was made at the time by Abdul Jabbar van de Ven, a Dutch convert to radical Islam. After the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, he said on TV he would thank Allah if he could arrange for MP Geert Wilders to die, “for example of cancer”.
Gregorius Nekschot publishes mainly on the Internet, but also produced a book titled ‘Nekschot: Sick jokes.’ Theo van Gogh, assassinated by a Muslim terrorist in 2004, gave space on his website to the work of Nekschot. Eight specific cartoons that the OM in Amsterdam claims are criminal have meanwhile been removed by the cartoonist from his website.
Opinion magazine HP/de Tijd is printing the eight cartoons by Gregorius Nekschot today. The magazine normally prints a cartoon by him every week.
If someone could have told us twenty years ago that supposedly adult human beings were rampaging over cartoons, we would have considered this soothsayer insane.
Now the reality is here and instead we have large numbers of insane rampagers to consider instead.