That’s right. The explanation when he was first arrested was: “We suspect him of insulting people.”
Insulting whom? The Dutch Reformed Church? No, it wasn’t his equal-opportunity insulting of other religions that got him hauled in. His cartoons poked fun at Islam, and at the time, the double standard kicked in with the full force of the law behind it. He was arrested in May of 2008, and it has taken this much time, effort, and legal wrangling to get the charges dropped.
“Prosecutor Drops Case against Dutch Cartoonist,” by Katrine Winkel Holm for the International Free Press Society, September 25 (thanks to Gravenimage):
COPENHAGEN, September 25, 2010 – International solidarity works and sometimes the good people win. That is conclusion one may draw from the Dutch prosecutor’s recent decision to drop all charges against the intrepid cartoonist who goes under the ominous pseudonym Gregorius Nekschot.
In a mail to the Danish Free Press Society’s webzine Sappho.dk, Nekschot characterises the outcome as a “complete victory”.
Nekschot goes on to say that “five years of expensive investigations, an arrest, legal procedures and consultation at the highest level have resulted in nothing. I think the prosecutor wanted to drop the whole thing because the case against Geert Wilders is due to begin. It’s the same prosecutor, you know.”
There is one fly in the ointment: Nekschot’s website may no longer display the “discriminating” drawings he was being investigated for. However, they are still on the internet and Dutch newspapers are allowed to reprint them for “journalistic reasons”, as stated by the prosecutor.
Did the Interdepartmental Working Group on Cartoons weigh in?
As Nekschot sees it, however, that is “a very, very small price to pay. I can carry on making caricatures, perhaps even more controversial ones, because I have been allowed to keep my anonymity.”
The issue of continued anonymity has been Nekschot’s biggest worry all along. A public trial would have forced him to show his face, and that would have been tantamount to a death sentence. He remembers all too well what happened to two other Dutchmen who dared to offend the tender sensibilities of the religion of peace, the politician Pym Fortuyn and the film-maker Theo van Gogh, who were murdered in 2002 and 2004.
During both of Gregorius Nekschot’s visits to Denmark as a guest of the Free Press Society, he therefore chose to address the audience dressed in a burka.
In the midst of all the joy over the prosecutor’s decision to drop the case against Nekschot, it should be remembered that the Dutch penal code still has its article 137c, which forbids incitement to hatred. This means that anyone not towing the line of multiculturalism and deference to Islam can still be hauled before a court whenever the state deems it expedient to do so.
In Nekschot’s case, the ruling elite decided that criminal proceedings were counterproductive and the caricaturist has no doubt that international attention to his plight played a crucial role.
As he states in his mail to the Free Press Society: “I think your help, from abroad, has been extremely important! The Dutch government must have realized that a case against me could turn into an international and very damaging affair. Apart from Wilders’ case, another headache – so to speak.”…