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5/9/15

The Netherlands-Freedom Of Speech: Royal Family Insult Case Sparks Outrage in Netherlands

A decision to drag a Dutch activist before a judge for insulting King Willem-Alexander has sparked outrage in liberal-minded Netherlands and prompted prosecutors to re-evaluate the case based on a century-old law.

Abulkasim al-Jaberi was arrested in November when television cameras showed him spouting a stream of profanity aimed at the king, Queen Maxima and the royal house.

Al-Jaberi was part of a demonstration in Amsterdam against the Dutch "Black Pete" children's figure, which opponents say is a racist throwback.

Al-Jaberi, a well-known critic of the black-faced sidekick that appears at the traditional gift-giving festival of Saint Nicholas, was handed a 500 euro ($568) fine afterwards. He refused to pay.

Prosecutors said on Wednesday that the activist would face trial based on a "lese-majeste" or "injured monarch" law harking back to 1881, which makes deliberately insulting the king or royal house punishable with a prison sentence of up to five years or a 20,000 euro fine.

The announcement sparked instant outrage in liberal Netherlands, which sees freedom of speech as a fundamental cornerstone.

An unknown person spray-painted Al-Jaberi's words on the Royal Palace in Amsterdam, while Twitter saw a stream of similar expletives being tweeted.

Online, in newspapers and even in parliament many denounced the lese-majeste law as archaic and hardly in tune with modern-day rights.

Prosecutors announced on Thursday that they were withdrawing the summons for Al-Jaberi's appearance in an Amsterdam court on May 27 "for further investigation," but the charge itself has not been dropped.

"The issue of freedom of expression is sensitive in the Netherlands. It's a very important fun
 damental right," Stef Ketelaar, a lawyer and historian who studied the lese-majeste laws told AFP.

Note EU-Digest : The Dutch legal system needs to be updated and archaic laws like  the "lese-majeste"should be removed from the books and while they are reviewing he laws they should also be looking into laws which put the Dutch Royal family in a priviledged position above those of  ordinary citizens. In case anyone forgot we are living in 2015 and not in the last century.

Read more: Royal Family Insult Case Sparks Outrage in Netherlands

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