Dutch protester may go to prison for insulting the king

Reuters News
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Posted: May 07, 2015 9:47 AM

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A protester who shouted an obscenity about the Dutch king could face up to five years in prison and a fine of more than 20,000 euros under a 19th-century law against insulting the monarch, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Anti-racism activist Abulkasim Al-Jaberi was detained in December while demonstrating against a centuries-old Dutch Christmas parade at which black-faced helpers called "Zwarte Piet" (Black Pete) assist Santa Claus.

Critics of the custom denounce the use of blackface as racist.

Prosecution spokesman Franklin Wattimena said that Al-Jaberi, a Dutch-Iraqi journalist, had been summoned to appear in court on May 27 after failing to pay a 500 euro fine.

He could be thrown behind bars under a law dating back to 1881 against "insulting the king," Wattimena said. The law is enforced about once a year.

"The law dates from the 19th Century, but still exists like many other old laws. We have to enforce it."

The best-known recent example of its use was against a man who threw a crumpled tinfoil candle holder at the horse-drawn carriage of former Queen Beatrix five years ago and was sentenced to 5 months in prison.

(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Tom Heneghan)