August 19 2010
A Dutch appeals court has fined the Dutch arm of the Arab European League 2,500 euros for causing “unnecessary offence” publishing a Holocaust-denying cartoon. The cartoon was printed last year, with the AEL claiming to point out double standards In Dutch society. The organization was acquitted of insulting Jews in April, but appeals judges this week overturned the decision, determining that the cartoon was more offensive than could be justified by the debate.
The Arab European League (AEL) is being prosecuted for insulting Jews by publishing a cartoon suggesting they invented the Holocaust, the Dutch public prosecution office said today.
Last month, Dutch prosecutors ordered the league to remove the cartoon from its website or face prosecution. The cartoon was punishable, they found, “because it offends Jews on the basis of their race and/or religion”, Agence France Press reports in The Peninsula. The public prosecution office said it told the AEL two weeks ago that publishing the cartoon was illegal but that it would drop the case if the group removed the cartoon from its website within two weeks and agreed not to republish it.
According to Reuters reports in SABC News, Abdoulmouthalib Bouzerda, chairman of the Dutch AEL, said the group had published a disclaimer at the time saying it did not support the views of the cartoons it used. Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that the AEL acquiesced to the request, but then it put the cartoon back on the website claiming that the ruling was an instance of double standards, since the republication of the Danish cartoons of Muhammad was allowed in the Netherlands. It removed cartoon once again on September 2. Finally, DutchNews reports that the cartoon was taken off the AEL’s website three years ago, but the league decided to republish it to highlight the double standards operating in society, as the AEL prosecution comes after a decision not to put politician Geert Wilders on trial for republishing Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad on his website.
The Dutch Public Prosecution Department has announced that Geert Wilders and TV program Nova will not be prosecuted for publishing controversial Danish cartoons online. The 12 cartoons depicting Mohammad led to worldwide unrest when published in a Danish newspaper in 2006. The department determined that because the reproduced cartoons target Mohammad and not Muslims in general, they “do not insult Muslims nor incite hatred” and their reproduction is not punishable by law.
However the department will prosecute the pro-Arab Arabische Europese Liga unless it removes a cartoon depicting two Jews inventing the holocaust from its website. That cartoon does ‘insult Jews because of their race and/or religion’ because it implies Jews themselves invented the idea that six million were killed during World War II, the department said. Although the website removed the cartoons earlier, they have since republished them, as chairman Abdoulmouthalib Bouzerda claims that the prosecutor’s office is applying double standards. He adds that “given the decision not to interpret the Muhammad cartoon as offensive to Muslims, the decision that the publication of the AEL carton is liable to prosecution is incomprehensible”.
The Arab European League plans to sue the Antwerp police department, blaming them of acting in racist manners after the murder of Mohammed Achrak in 2002. The AEL bases itself in the blog of the former police commissioner of Antwerp, Bart Debie, who wrote about the testimony during the AEL appeal trial. According to AEL, his writings show that racism is deeply rooted in the police department.