Parliament keeps faith with blasphemy law

23rd November 2004, Comments 0 comments

23 November 2004, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch parliament has rejected a bid to scrap the prohibition on blasphemy.

23 November 2004

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch parliament has rejected a bid to scrap the prohibition on blasphemy.

The motion was drawn up by MP Lousewies van der Laan of the small government party D66 last week. The move was a response to an announcement by Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner that he planned to strengthen the blasphemy law.

Initially Van der Laan's motion seemed to have majority support. Only Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's Christian Democrats and two small religious parties opposed it.

But lobbying by the coalition cabinet, made up of the CDA, D66 and the Liberal Party (VVD), seems to have saved the blasphemy law.

The support of the main opposition Labour Party (PvdA) was needed to get the motion passed. But the PvdA abstained in Tuesday's vote.

PvdA leader Wouter Bos accepted the government's claim that scrapping the law now would give out the "wrong signal" in the aftermath of the killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh.

A 26-year-old Muslim man was arrested for the murder that sparked a spate of tit-for-tat attacks on churches and mosques. Van Gogh was a severe critic of aspects of Islamic culture.

Van der Laan's motion was supported on Tuesday by the Liberals, the populist LPF, independent Conservative Geert Wilders and independent Socialist MP Ali Lazrak.

The PvdA, Socialist Party and green-left GroenLinks issued a statement saying they agreed with D66 that the the blasphemy law was unfair as it gave a protection to religious people not granted to others. But the three parties said now was not the time to change things.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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