Dutch ruling says Koran-based homophobia is acceptable
Fury has erupted in Holland after a government-backed anti-discrimination watchdog – MiND – ruled that it was perfectly OK for Muslims to send gay people death threats.
According to this report, the taxpayer-funded hotline said it would not pursue a criminal complaint over horrific messages from radical Islamists because the Koran says gay people can be killed.
The shocking decision came to light when a member of the public complained about death threats posted to an online forum which called for homosexuals to be:
Burned, decapitated and slaughtered.
Dutch MPs this reacted with horror to ruling, demanding an immediate inquiry into the remarks and calling for the hotline to be stripped of public funding.
MiND said that, while homophobic abuse was usually a crime, it was justifiable if you were Muslim due to laws on freedom of religious expression.
It argued that the Koran says it is acceptable to kill people for being homosexual, and so death threats towards gay people from Muslims could not be discriminatory.
In a “jaw-dropping” email explaining why they could not take up the complaint, MiND wrote:
The remarks must be seen in the context of religious beliefs in Islam, which juridically takes away the insulting character.
It concluded that the remarks were made in “the context of a public debate about how to interpret the Quran” and added that:
Some Muslims understand from the Quran that gays should be killed … In the context of religious expression that exists in the Netherlands there is a large degree of freedom of expression. In addition, the expressions are used in the context of the public debate (how to interpret the Koran), which also removes the offending character.
The death threats had been made in the comments section beneath an article about a Dutch-Moroccan gay society, which had been posted to an online platform for Holland’s large Moroccan community.
The revelation that they were so easily brushed aside by the anti-discrimination hotline will fuel an intense debate in the Netherlands over freedom of expression.
Two right-wing MPs, Joram van Klaveren and Louis Bontes, have now announced their intention to bring up the incident in the Dutch parliament by asking questions of the Justice Minister.
The pair argued that public prosecutors must be permitted to take up cases of homophobic abuse, especially where it concerns threats of violence, no matter who is making the discriminatory remarks.
Van Klaveren will ask:
Do you share our disgust at the fact that this explicitly states that inciting violence is not a problem if it comes from the Islamic belief?
A spokesman for the MiND hotline admitted that after “further research” of the issue it had concluded that the complaint had been “unjustly assessed”.
He added that when the complaint involved calling for violence against a particular group, the beliefs of the person making the threats should not matter.
Editor’s note: Abdullah Hakim Quick, featured in the intro photo, is currently senior lecturer with the Islamic Institute of Toronto and the outreach coordinator with the Canadian Council of Imams. In “recognition of the contribution he has made to Canada”, Quick received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.