Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It’s So Hard to Be Politically Correct in the Netherlands

The Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) was trying to be even handed. It had three separate cases involving “religious” cartoons to deal with. The Dutch news site NIS reports the following:

1. A Danish newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2006 was cleared of wrong doing under Dutch law because the cartoons were not about “all Muslims” and they didn’t “incite discrimination or violence against Muslims, according to the OM”.

2. MP Geert Wilders put the cartoons on his website and the TV show Nova showed them on television. They also were cleared because the cartoons themselves were not illegal.

3. But, the Arabic European League (AEL) published two cartoons against Jews on its website one of which was judged illegal because it “expressed the idea that Jews deliberately make up or exaggerate the Holocaust. This is illegal because it constitutes an insult to the Jews as a group.” However, the OM decided not to prosecute AEL on the condition that the AEL not publish the cartoon again.

Sure the AEL violated the law, but since the other two groups didn’t violate the law, why not let AEL off too? Talk about being Mr. Nice Guy at the OM!

Well, the AEL is not taking that lying down. Today NIS reports that AEL spokesperson Abdou Bouzerda claims that the OM’s decision not to prosecute the AEL is a politically motivated act because the OM is afraid of Muslims. (Ya think?) So, to show up the “hypocrisy” of the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office and provoke a court case, AEL has republished the cartoon.
"'Wilders is judged right and may continue to publish cartoons that one and a half billion people perceive as offensive. While we have to remove political cartoons that could be offensive to Jews', Bouzerda sneered.

"Bouzerda claims that the OM is not prosecuting the AEL out of fear of Muslims. 'The OM merely wished to prevent angry Muslim reactions if it became evident that we were being prosecuted and Wilders was not'.

"Due to this 'hypocrisy', the AEL republished its cartoon. In doing so it implicitly provokes the OM into taking the matter to court. 'Let the OM prosecute us by all means; we want a court verdict'."

You do something nice (well, maybe because you don’t want a political uproar from a very activist part of society that could get scary) to show how moderate and tolerant you are, and this is what you get.

Maybe the OM can find a way to convict all three groups and show its commitment to evenhanded prosecution if not evenhanded justice.

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