Rotterdam police have arrested an 18-year-old young woman in connection with threats made against a teacher who had a satirical drawing about the Charlie Hebdo killings in France on his classroom notice board.
The teacher reportedly went into hiding after a photo of the drawing was picked up on social media, amid claims by a group of girls at the Emmauscollege that it featured Mohammed rather than a terrorist.
The teenager has been arrested for incitement, police said, because she had placed a message on social media which called on people to ‘commit crimes against the school and teacher’.
The cartoon had been on the wall since 2015 and only became subject of discussion after the school commemorated French teacher Samuel Platy who was murdered by a radical Muslim after a discussion about cartoons featuring Mohammed.
The school issued a statement on Thursday saying the photo of the cartoon, by Dutch artist Joep Bertrams, was ‘completely missing the context’. As a result, the statement said, threats have been made against our colleagues, which is completely unacceptable.
MPs and ministers have also expressed their outrage that the teacher was forced to go into hiding.
The NRC, which broke the story on Thursday, has interviewed several pupils at the school, most of whom thought the cartoon had featured Mohammed, rather than a terrorist and who spoke about the speed with which it was shared on social media.
Meanwhile, Yassin Elforkani, imam at the Blue Mosque in Amsterdam’s district of Nieuw-West, has cancelled this Friday’s sermon because of the number of threats he has received for suggesting more should be done to stop people insulting the prophet.
Elforkani told the Parool newspaper last week he felt there should be laws to limit freedom to insult Islam. ‘Insults made against Islam have created very negative dynamics and a poisonous atmosphere in society, with all the risks that entails,’ he said.
The city’s mayor Femke Halsema, who criticised Elforkani’s position last week by saying freedom of expression should not be limited to stop people feeling insulted, has now supported the imam.
‘Imam Elforkain is involved in a polite democratic debate about insulting god and blasphemy,’ she said. ‘And in this, he is continuing a long Dutch tradition in which religious and political leaders make statements about the breadth of freedom of expression.’
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