Majority of Dutch parliament against accentuation of anti-blasphemy article

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

THE HAGUE — The proposal from Dutch Minister of Justice Piet Hein Donner to strengthen the anti-blasphemy provisions of the criminal code has been rejected by a majority of the Tweede Kamer, the country's parliament. Donner put forth the proposal shortly after the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, but denied that Van Gogh's death had anything to do with the proposal.

NOS reported that Donner's own party, the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), supported his proposal. However, their two coalition partners — the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie, VVD) and Democrats 66 (D66) — announced they would not back the ban. The Labour Party, the largest opposition party, also refused to vote in favour. Without their support, the motion could not be passed. Consequently, NRC Handelsblad reports, Donner withdrew his proposal.

Although the Dutch criminal code already makes blasphemy illegal, the law has only been enforced three times since the 1930s. The article in question states that anyone who ridicules a cleric or relic may be imprisoned for up to three months. According to Dutch broadcaster RTL, Member of Parliament Lousewies van der Laan (D66), will make a motion on November 17 to have the article removed entirely from the criminal code.


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