Monday, November 08, 2004

We seem to have a problem with the Dutch police

As the moves towards integrating security and judicial as well as policing activity across the EU, we should cast a worried look at the activities of the Dutch police. This is rather surprising, as the Dutch authorities are normally seen among the most liberal of the European ones. But liberal is as liberal does. The new “liberal” ideas in Europe resemble what the Americans call “liberal”. In other words, far from the old-fashioned John Stuart Mill type liberalism that emphasises tolerance and individual liberty, it defines what is allowed and what is forbidden in a “liberal” political structure.

Thus, it is “liberal”, “radical” and daring to criticize certain religions, churches and their members but not others. Judaism and, above all, Christianity fall into the first category. Islam into the second. Of course, the fact that those who are deemed to criticize Islam are often murdered by certain illiberal members of that religion, may have something to do with this attitude.

The story concerns the Dutch police, however. On November 2 the Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh was murdered and a Moroccan young man, who lives in the Netherlands has been charged with the murder.

Van Gogh was a professional exciter of controversy, a man who had attacked Christianity and Judaism, and had been proud of the protests his work had invoked. Every free country has film makers like that. He has also made a film about Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch politician who was murdered two years ago because of his statements about immigration.

Van Gogh’s crime seems to have been a film about the brutality some Muslim women are subjected to in their society. In this he worked together with Somalian-born Dutch MP Ayann Hirsi Ali, whose personal experiences seem to have been quite appalling. And so the man was murdered with Index on Censorship, that impeccably “liberal” magazine publishing an article that blames him for his own murder. It served him right for his opinions and, anyway, it was a publicity stunt to promote his film.

The story is, however, about the way the Dutch police behaved when a mural was painted in Rotterdam in protest against the murder. In fact, the mural showed an angel and the Biblical words “Thou shalt not kill.” As there were attacks on several mosques in the wake of the van Gogh murder, you would think the Dutch police had its hands full. Not so, but far from it.

The local imam appears to have complained about the mural as being racist. One cannot help wondering how he arrived at that conclusion and why the Dutch police should have agreed with him. But agree with him they did, smashed up the mural, arrested the TV journalists who were filming the episode, confiscated their cameras and destroyed the film.

It is time to start worrying about closer co-operation, legally enfoceable sharing of information and other suchlike initiatives when events like that go on. And it is certainly time to worry about the European Arrest Warrant, which, as our readers will recall, has been signed by this country’s government with almost indecent haste.

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