Why did the petition start?
After the murder in France of Teacher Samuel Paty, there is discussion all over the world about using cartoons about the Islamic prophets. For many Muslims, cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad are hurtful. For others, its freedom of expression.
The imam of a mosque in Amsterdam therefore proposed to stop insulting the prophet, for example by a change in the law. Another imam then started a petition to forbid cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad.
Meanwhile, more than one hundred thousand people have signed it. One of these people is Rumaysa of 16: “For us Muslims, it is very hurtful to depict the prophet so negatively, because he is sacred to us. We do not portray him in our faith, and therefore it is even more hurtful that certain people do so in order to insult him and mock the faith.”
Who finds what?
Imam Yassin of the mosque in Amsterdam thinks that the House of Representatives will not do anything with the petition. He says to De Volkskrant that hes not necessarily about that either. “But we must draw a clear line when it comes to insulting the prophet.” He believes that the petition is important for this; it helps. That so many people sign the petition, according to Yassin, clearly shows how Muslims feel about it. “It means that they love their prophet very much. In addition, they are angry about the growing hatred towards Muslims.”
Rumaysa of 16 also signed the petition: “I did that because I think the government should pay attention to both sides of the story. I believe that everyone in the Netherlands has freedom of expression, but that too little account is taken of our side. And it should not be the case that if someone feels hurt, you can say anything.”
Whether the petition can cause a law against insulting the prophet, Rumaysa does not know: “It would be good if the petition could ensure that the prophet is no longer offended, but I dont think anything is really going to be done with it by the government.”
Youssra of 19 did not sign the petition. “The House of Representatives attaches so much importance to freedom of expression that I cannot imagine that they agree to it. I dont see the cartoons as freedom of speech, because it hurts a very large group, but I know that the House does not feel that way. I do not think that the government should decide what will be shown in, for example, the classes.”
About showing cartoons in the classroom, Youssra says its better if its the teacher that matches the class in an educational form. They can ask the question to the class, conduct the discussion freedom of speech versus satire. This is an important discussion that needs to be held and it should not be regulated from the government.”
Can the law really get there?
Is there actually a law against insulting the Prophet Muhammad? That is just the question, say several experts who are now working on this question.
It is a criminal offence in the Netherlands to insult a group of people because of their religion. “But thats not about insulting a prophet,” says criminal law teacher Klaas Rozemond to Het Parool. By means of legislation, you could change that it is no longer allowed – to become punishable – he thinks. But the chances of such a thing happening in the Netherlands are very small, he also says.
A law expert says the same thing to the paper. She thinks that this is also because a few years ago in the Netherlands the ban on blasphemy, so the ban to speak evil about God or ridicule religious traditions, was removed.