Here’s the latest report from our expatriate Dutch correspondent H. Numan.
Do you believe in coincidence?
by H. Numan
Last week I reported about the international arrest warrant issued by a court in Amman, Jordan. This week two major Dutch corporations caved in for fear of a boycott: Zwanenberg and Friesche Vlag. The first is a (pork!) sausage maker in Oss, North Brabant; the other a milk conglomerate in Friesland. Both produce many more products than sausages and milk. And both export to Jordan. Both placed full page advertisements in which they distance themselves from Fitna and Wilders, as the Volkskrant reports (my comments are in italicized square brackets):
Companies bow to boycott
AMMAN — Dutch companies yielded to a threatened boycott in Jordan against Dutch and Danish products. Zwanenberg (Zwan sausages) and Friesland Foods (cheese and milk) placed advertisements in Jordanian newspapers in which they distance themselves of Geert Wilders’ Fitna movie.
Doing so prevented their brand names from appearing on the latest poster of ‘The Messenger of Allah Unites Us’, that attacked Danish brands last week. On their most recent poster KLM, Philips, Friso, and Milupa are featured.
KLM and Philips are being boycotted. Wednesday all travel organizations in Amman received a letter calling on them to boycott KLM. The letter is also distributed in other Arab nations, said chairman Zakaria Sheikh of the committee ‘The Messenger of Allah Unites Us’.
Pallets loaded with posters are stacked in the office of the committee in Amman. “We printed over a million of them” said Sheikh.
Last week the committee got the Justice Department to investigate whether Wilders can be prosecuted. Sheikh expect a court order soon. “This has nothing to do with freedom of speech,” said the publisher of the weekly Fact International. “Wilders insulted all Muslims of the world. He should not escape punishment.”
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The Zwanenberg Food Group in Almelo stated in the advertisements ‘to reject the opinions and remarks in the movie Fitna made by ‘Geert Welders’ [sic!], in which he equated Islam with violence’. “We strongly reject any expressions or opinions against Islam that serve, according to us, no other purpose than to hurt.” Friesland Foods published a similar text.
Furthermore, Zwanenberg acknowledges solidarity with the campaign of ‘The Messenger of Allah Unites Us’ in its efforts to create an international law forbidding any insult to any religion, including Islam and its prophet Mohammed. In an open letter, dated 14 June, Zwanenberg describes itself as a producer of hot dogs, cocktail sausages, luncheon meat [‘some kind of Spam’] and mortadella, all produced under the brand name Zwan [and all made with pork… I wonder if they wrote that too].
According to Sheikh, in order to escape this boycott companies must also advertise similar texts in their own country. In the Jordan Times director Aldo van der Laan of Zwanenberg denied any knowledge about this demand. ‘But I have no problem saying our company is worried about Wilders’ actions in The Netherlands as well’.
Zwanenberg and Friesland Foods were not available for comments. KLM, according to a spokesperson, has limited itself to an earlier prepared statement: “KLM does not interfere with any religious or political organization whatsoever, and distances itself of the contents of this controversial movie.”
Now, this may sound odd to you, perhaps. The Netherlands and Jordan have very close royal ties. Mrs. Beatrix von Amsberg, queen of the Netherlands, was a very close friend of the late king Hussein of Jordan. Normally the government decides based on the amount of business or political importance if an embassy, consulate, chancellery or honorary diplomatic representation is required with a certain nation. One cannot have fully staffed embassies in each and every nation of the world.
The amount of business or political importance between Jordan and the Netherlands is infinitesimal. Matters were handled by (usually honorary) consulates elsewhere in the region. In the early reign of queen Beatrix she insisted on having full diplomatic relations with fully staffed embassies in both nations, out of her personal friendship with king Hussein. The government caved in to the royal demand, and established full diplomatic relations, despite the fact that we do more business with Greenland without even an honorary consul… This created a bit of a scandal, as her insistence was not exactly constitutional.
Now, Jordan is anything but a democracy. The king holds substantial powers, both military and legal as well as administrative. Anything the king says, goes! Strangely enough his royal majesty seems to be royally occupied with grave matters elsewhere, while his subjects, purely democratic of course, dance the makaramba with the relationship of a nation which has exceptional friendly ties…
Remember, the king of Jordan appoints all judges as he sees fit. Or removes them, if that be his pleasure. Also, the king, if he judges this necessary, can order in the army to remove whatever offends him. And he has done that in the past, quite a few times. But his royal majesty is royally occupied…
Also remember that the Dutch government has done everything in its power to prevent Wilders’ producing Fitna. Both legal and illegal. Without any success at all. For example, the police printed already filled-in complaint forms, where complainants only had to fill in their names and sign to complain about Wilders — that’s not exactly legal. The Prosecutor General’s office tried, in vain, to set up a court case against Wilders. Many organizations tried likewise. Even the biggest names in law and advocacy tried, again unsuccessfully.
Now, all of a sudden Wilders is being sued by a nation that doesn’t even have a word for democracy, but has very strong bond of friendship between the royals. Both royals look royally occupied. Both governments wash their hands in complete innocence. Both governments cannot do a thing against the democratic actions of lawful citizens.
It is just me, or do you smell a dead rat the size of a camel, too?