Dutch cartoonist held for too long
Justice minister says while he supports the office’s decision to prosecute Gregorius Nekschot, the cartoonist was held for too long.21 May 2008
THE NETHERLANDS – The Gregorius Nekschot affair is back in the spotlight following last night's debate in the lower house of parliament.
Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin says that cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot was detained for too long a period.
The cartoonist was detained at a police station for 30 hours on charges of intentionally insulting certain population groups as well as inciting hatred. Nekschot's cartoons are allegedly insulting to Muslims.
During a debate in parliament, the minister said that he would talk to the Public Prosecutors Office about the issue and report back to parliament. Ballin added that he supports the Office's decision to prosecute the case.
The opposition fiercely criticised the cartoonist's arrest and the search of his house last week, but the justice minister assured parliament that he strongly supports freedom of speech.
Reports of other newspapers
De Telegraaf covers the debate under the headline "Stasi tactics". MPs say the arrest was "scandalous, ridiculous and intimidation". Populist MP Rita Verdonk commented "This isn't Iran; this is The Netherlands in 2008".
De Volkskrant covers the story and also prints three of the cartoons. The paper writes that the justice minister was buried under an avalanche of criticism and that the justice minister himself was also highly critical of the arrest, the way it was carried out and the fact that the cartoonist was held for 30 hours.
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"
[Radio Netherlands / Jacqueline Carver / Expatica]