Dutch to Prosecute Muslim Group Over Holocaust Caricature

Prosecutors in the Netherlands are charging an Arab group over a caricature that insults the memory of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

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David Lev, | updated: 15:02

Muhammad caricature
Muhammad caricature
Israel news photo: Jyllands-Posten

One of the men says 'I don't think they're Jews,' while the other responds, 'We have to get to the six million somehow' - implying that the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust was somehow inflated by Jews for political purposes.
Prosecutors in the Netherlands have decided to charge an Arab group for publishing a caricature on its website that insults the memory of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. The caricature, according to prosecutors in the Dutch city of Utrecht, insults Jews as a group and is therefore banned for publication in the country.

According to prosecutors, the offending group, the Arab European League, would likely face a fine for publishing the caricature, although the offense carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail.

The caricature depicts what appear to be two Jewish men standing near a pile of skeletons. Next to them is a sign that reads "Auswitch," a reference to the Auschwitz concentration camp. In the cartoon, one of the men pokes a bone with a stick, and says to his fellow, "I don't think they're Jews," while the other responds, "We have to get to the six million somehow" - implying that the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust was somehow inflated by Jews for political purposes.

The case came to the attention of Dutch prosecutors after Ronny Naftaniel of the Center for Documentation on Israel filed a complaint with police, saying that the picture was discriminatory and racist. In response, the Arab group says that while it does not agree with the cartoon, it placed it on its website to show the "hypocrisy" of European officials.

AEL chairman Abdoulmouthalib Bouzerda called the caricature "an act of civil disobedience" and said that it was published because Dutch authorities had failed to prosecute Dutch MP Geert Wilders for publicizing a newspaper's caricatures of Mohammed in 2006, an act that was followed by worldwide riots and protests by Muslims over the alleged insult to the pioneer of their religion. "Freedom of expression is only a pretext to make life bitter for Muslims ... and if (they) try to bring this hypocrisy to light, that right is denied them," Bouzerda wrote on the group's website.

Naftaniel ridiculed the comparison, saying that Jews had had nothing to do with the "Mohammed caricatures," so there was no reason whatsoever to include them in the controversy. "Imagine if Dutch Jews insulted Muslims every time they heard an anti-Semitic remark. What kind of perverse world would we be living in?" he said. Wilders wasn't prosecuted at the time because justice officials in the Netherlands said that the depictions of Mohammed were aimed not at Muslims in general, but only at Mohammed.

The controversy over the "Mohammed caricatures" erupted in early 2006, when Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard depicted the founder of Islam as a terrorist, wearing a bomb in his turban. Furious Muslims rioted and demonstrated, with several people killed over the weeks following the publication of the photos, and the subsequent publicizing by Wilders. Eleven Danish cartoonists remain in hiding, for fear that they will be executed by Islamic fanatics for their role in the affair.