Dutch Arab group acquitted over Holocaust cartoon

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A Dutch court Thursday acquitted an Arab organisation in The Netherlands of insulting Jews when they published a Holocaust-denying cartoon in response to caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

The district court in Utrecht in the central Netherlands ruled that while the cartoon was "tasteless and particularly offensive", its use within the context of free speech was not punishable.

The Dutch leg of the Arab European League (AEL) re-published on its website last year a cartoon that depicts the Nazi Holocaust as a figment of Jewish imagination, saying it did so to point out double standards in society.

It was reacting to a decision by Dutch prosecutors not to put far-right MP Geert Wilders on trial for distributing controversial Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Prosecutors had said at the same time that the Holocaust cartoon was discriminatory and vowed to prosecute the Arab league, described on its website as a body that seeks to promote the rights of Arabs and Muslims in Europe.

But the court said the league had published the cartoon with a text explaining its purpose and emphasising that the organisation was not itself denying the Holocaust.

"Freedom of speech need not come second in this case to the right of others to be free from discrimination," the court statement said.

"The right of the AEL to make such a statement must be guaranteed, given the specific context and intention of the case."

© 2010 AFP

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