The Dutch authorities have arrested the cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot (a pseudonym. Nekschot means deathblow, litt: “shot in the back of the neck” [An interview with Nekschot here]). The judicial authorities in Amsterdam said yesterday that the cartoonist was arrested as a suspect for the criminal offense of “publishing cartoons which are discriminating for Muslims and people with dark skin.”
The cartoonist was arrested on Tuesday, while the police searched his house for “discriminating evidence.” His computer, backups, usb sticks, mobile phone and a number of drawings were confiscated. Nekschot was released two days later but it is possible that he will be charged following a complaint in 2005 by the Dutch imam Abdul Jabbar van de Ven, an indigenous Dutchman who converted to Islam.
According to the Dutch public prosecutor Nekschot “makes his profession” of drawing cartoons of “an insulting and/or discriminating nature.” Ernst Hirsch Ballin, the Dutch minister of Justice, a Christian-Democrat, said that it took the police three years to discover the real identity of the cartoonist.
Nekschot, a friend of the late Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film maker who was ritually slaughtered by a Muslim fanatic in 2004, hides his real identity in order to avoid unnecessary risks. Hans Teeuwen, a Dutch stand-up comedian and friend of Nekschot’s, told the Dutch media yesterday that the police had told Nekschot as they released him earlier that day that “he has now lost his anonymity.” Teeuwen said this was “a rather intimidating remark.”
As spokeswoman of Xtra, Nekschot’s publisher, said today: “He was arrested with a great show of force, by around 10 policemen.” The spokeswoman asked that her name not be used because the cartoonist and publisher have received death threats. Nekschot told the Dutch newspaper Het Parool today that police officers had told him: “What you draw is worse than what they did in Denmark. Do you realize what can happen to you if your identity gets known?” The cartoonist fears for his live if he is being sent to jail. “As the maker of those cartoons my life is in danger in prison,” he said.
Nekschot’s work is rude and often sexually explicit. As such it is characteristic for the Dutch liberal mentality and not beyond the limit in the Netherlands. In his cartoons, however, he mocks the multicultural society, and that does seem to be beyond all bounds.
Meanwhile, a group of American bloggers are making parodies of the Flemish pulpit which is deemed offensive by Muslims because it depicts Mohammed being trampled by angels. Reprinting the parodies is illegal in most European countries. Hence, if you live in Europe do not click this link!
Danish Paper Apologizes. Dutch Cartoon on Its Way, 31 January 2006