Hate Speech in the Netherlands

By | Jun 28, 2011

by Symi Rom-Rymer

Last week, popular far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders was acquitted of all charges of inciting hatred against Muslims.  The allegations made against him were based on his provocative statements that likened the Koran to Mein Kampf and called Islam a fascist religion.  The judges, after just 20 minutes of deliberation, threw out the case.  According to the BBC, “although the [judges] found [Wilders’] warning of a ‘tsunami’ of immigrants to be on the border of what is permissible, they said he had stayed within the bounds of the law.  [The] judges called some of Mr. Wilders’ comments ‘crude and denigrating,’ but not illegal.”  Buoyed by his success, Wilders gave a victory speech following the verdict in which he did nothing to tamp down the controversy surrounding him.  Instead, he declared that his win was a slap in the face to the Islamiziation of Europe.

Wilders is infamous in the Netherlands for fanning the flames of anti-Muslim sentiment.  He has written inflammatory pieces in the Dutch media about Muslims and other non-Western immigrants and in 2008, made a film, Fitna, that depicted Islam as inherently violent.  His involvement in anti-Muslim speech does not stop at the Dutch borders.  Last year, he brought his act to the United States.  During the debate over Park51, the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, he joined Newt Gingrich at a rally to oppose the building of the mosque.

It is deeply disheartening that in the Netherlands, where it is illegal to deny the Holocaust and where there are strict laws on hate speech, language clearly used to denigrate the Muslim minority population was deemed permissible. During the Second Intifada in Israel, a French journalist commented that his country’s government only recognizes anti-Semitism if it’s goose-stepping down the Champs Elyseé in jackboots.  It appears that the Dutch courts are similarly limited in their perceptions of hate speech.

Given its history and the laws in other EU countries, it is understandable why Holocaust denial, and by extension attacks on Dutch Jews, is considered a crime in the Netherlands.  However, protection from vile and ignorant language in the public sphere should not only apply to those in the Jewish community.  Other minority groups, too, should be able expect legal protection from hate speech.  While the Holocaust is an extreme example, it is worth remembering that the deep-seated hatred and rage that helped fuel it was not created in a vacuum.  It was in part the product of centuries of accepted discrimination and hate speech left unchecked.  Based on the right-wing response to the ruling, there is now a sense that a taboo has been lifted and the boundaries of acceptable rhetoric have widened.  The hate-filled rhetoric aimed at Muslims and other non-Western minorities is spewed by those who now, more than ever, feel a freedom to feed the existing atmosphere of anger and suspicion in the Netherlands.  As John Tyler, political editor at Radio Netherlands told the BBC, “This is a precedent-setting case that now allows people to feel like they can say more than they felt they could say before.”

According to the State Department website, in December 2009, Dutch politician and former EU commissioner Frits Bolkstein suggested that Dutch Jews should emigrate because of rising incidences of anti-Semitism, a statement that he later denied amid criticism.  If Wilders and his supporters continue their rhetoric against Muslims and other non-Western immigrants living in the Netherlands, perhaps other Dutch politicians will suggest that Muslims, too, should leave the country.  If they do, will anybody care?

4 thoughts on “Hate Speech in the Netherlands

  1. Hope he learned his lesson to think first before expressing ones opinion to other people.

  2. Vlady says:

    You intrigued me and I just watched the Fitna movie http://www.jihadwatch.org/2008/03/here-is-fitna.html

    I was stunned by what I saw. I searched for any rebuttal of those facts on the WEB and I could not find any

  3. Balder says:

    A courageous Dutch investigative journalist of Jewish origin, Micha Kat, has been openly and loudly ‘denying the holocaust’ now for month, and has dared the justice system in Holland to prosecute him under the thought crime laws, which were so badly lobbied for by organized Jewry in Holland, and were brought into existence with the help of the Christian Zionists Party ‘ChristenUni’. Read more about this brave dissident some Jews doubtlessly will call a ‘moser’ here: Holland – Popular Jewish journalist Micha Kat: Puncture the gas chamber lie first, then the rest.

    There is a whole wave of what Jews and Zionists will call ‘holocaust denial’ in Holland, which has a long history of civil liberties and extensive freedom of speech, as well as of Jewish emancipation and strong Jewish influences, as Amsterdam became a Jewish bastion during the time the Jews were expelled from England. Most slang words for the different banknotes and coins used by everybody in Holland were of Jewish origin.

    The long tradition of being a free haven for thought criminals persecuted in other countries, is completely opposite the ‘holocaust denial laws’ that only have been in existence for a short time. Mainstream Dutch politicians have been advocating for the removal of these infringements on free speech, so contrary to Dutch culture and tradition as personified by freedom loving and slightly anarchistic types such as the assassinated Theo van Gogh, Pim Fortuyn, and Geert Wilders, who luckily is still alive.

    It is especially the Jewish instigated infringements on free speech which were made in to law only fairly recently, which has dared more and more Dutch observers of, and commentators on, world politics to investigate the many different versions of the holocaust.

    I’d say; let these Jewish and most of the time also Zionist organizations continue with their attacks on free speech and free historical research and debate, for at least it provides a very tangible and good reason for opposing the efforts of international Zionism and pointing it out as a danger to free western societies. This is something which is understood very well by a public which still has the murders of outspoken people and the efforts of Islamists to curtail free speech in mind, as well as the German occupation, when similar censorship and persecution of intellectual dissidents were practiced.

  4. Balder says:

    My comment has been waiting for moderation since yesterday (Dec 5) around noon.
    Please approve comment.

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