In the last few days the “Insulting Erdogan” row has expanded to include the Netherlands as well as Germany. Our Dutch correspondent H. Numan has compiled a report on the latest goings-on.
Note: Translated vulgarities are included in this post. Some have been elided with asterisks; others haven’t. For the sake of sensitive readers, the unelided naughtiness has been placed below the jump.
Storm in the Turkish bazaar
by H. Numan
Yesterday the journalist Ebru Emar was arrested by the Turkish police. She holds dual nationality: Dutch and Turkish. Unlike 99% of her countrymen with dual passports, she is rather outspoken about it, not in favor. Nor is she a fan of Erdogan’s. She wrote critically about Turkey, Turkish culture and the great Erdogan himself no less. For those reasons she was arrested. The first thing the police did was drag her into a hospital, to get written confirmation she was not mistreated. I wonder: is that standard Turkish police procedure? Or something they only do when they arrest foreign journalists? What happens after they got that confirmation? Questions, questions…
The Dutch prime minister has tweeted he will closely monitor this case, and might even ask the Turkish ambassador some strict questions. If Erdogan doesn’t object to that, of course. Ebru was released from imprisonment, but is not allowed to leave the country.
Why was she arrested? you probably ask. Well, last week the Turkish consulate opened a complaint site. They advertised — in Turkish — in Dutch newspapers soliciting information on derogatory remarks about the Turkish president. When asked by the media and later the government they claimed ‘it was a misunderstanding’, they were merely collecting general information.
A week previously Jan Boehmermann, a German comedian, said that Erdogan has intercourse with goats. This is the standard insult of muslims in both Germany and Holland: to address them with their favorite past-time. Geitenneukers, or goatf***ers in English. The recipients quite understand, and are suitably mortally offended. Theo van Gogh was murdered only after he called muslims goatf***ers in public on TV. He would have been murdered anyway, but this might very well be what drove Mohammed Bouyeri over the edge.
Erdogan went ballistic and demanded this comedian be prosecuted. Angela Merkel duly allowed that, and lost (again) a lot of votes over it. Under German law comedians and cartoonists are normally allowed to do pretty much what they want. The chancellor must decide in case of insult to a foreign head of state. The same principle works more or less also under Dutch law, but individuals may file complaints to the police (as happened in the current Wilders case).
Hans Teeuwen is a very popular Dutch comedian and very much outspoken about islam. Immediately after the Boehmermann row started he was interviewed. In the interview Hans said that he went to Turkey, long time ago, and visited a boys’ bordello. There he picked the then-young Erdogan for a blowjob and didn’t get one. He demanded satisfaction (pun intended)!
A Turkish (“Dutch”) lawyer now wants to file criminal charges for insulting a foreign head of state, as Hans Teeuwen was interviewed at home and not performing on stage. Therefore, he was not acting as a comedian but expressing his opinion and insulting Erdogan. On the other hand, in that case a court should inquire as to the earlier professions held by the president of Turkey. Did or did he not work as a boy prostitute in the bordello in Istanbul? Does he really want that for his poor insulted president?
What one emphatically does not hear is that “Dutch” Turkish citizens are overjoyed by the arrest of Ebru Emar. Very few news media pay attention to the flood of Dutch-Turkish tweeters expressing their joy. I won’t go into detail, but wishing she’s locked up in an all-male prison where the cons can do whatever they want is one of the more subtle ones.
Dutch politicians haven’t said much (it’s weekend) about this arrest. Expect the usual half-hearted insincere responses from them, pending political persuasion. That means ‘Ebru had it coming!’ from the left, ‘Erdogan did the right thing; when will Hans Teeuwen be arrested?’ by D66, ‘Oh the horror! We have to hold a silent protest march!’ by CDA and VVD.*
There is a Turkish split-off of the labor party: two parliamentarians left the PvdA and formed ‘Denk’ or ‘Think’ in English. The labor party was not strong enough in condemning racism and insulting islam; that’s why they left. Denk is in essence a branch of Erdogan’s AKP party within the Dutch political system. This party wants both Boehmermann and Hans Teeuwen prosecuted, and to keep the ‘do not insult’ clause in the law. Kuzu is one of the most ferocious opponents of Wilders. In the Dutch parliament it’s not done to openly call a fellow parliamentarian Hitler; Kuzu does it on a daily basis. Denk’s program is exactly the same as the AKP program; it only differs in that it follows Dutch law and addresses some Dutch-Turkish issues. Let me put it this way: if the NSB (WW2 Dutch quislings) were as closely associated with the NSDAP as Denk is with the AKP party, it would have call itself not NSB but NSNAP.
Right after the Boehmermann row broke in Germany, the Dutch minister for Justice, van der Steur, announced the law protecting foreign heads of state would be revoked. He probably has to hurry doing that, otherwise “Dutch” Turkish lawyers will have a field day.
— H. Numan
* Key to the major Dutch political parties:
|VVD||People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy|
|Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie|
|Partij van de Arbeid|
|PVV||Party for Freedom|
|Partij voor de Vrijheid|
|Classical liberal, Islam-critical
|Left-wing populists, former Maoists, to the left of communists
|CDA||Christian Democratic Appeal|
|Christian democrats, center-right
|Politieke Partij Democraten 66|
|Centrist social liberals
|Environmentalism plus hard left