A Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organization posted anti-Jewish cartoons on its Web site in response to the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that appeared in Danish papers last year and offended many Muslims.
The cartoons were posted on the Arab European League's site on Saturday. It was not working Sunday morning because of exceeded bandwidth. The Islamic site carried a disclaimer saying the images were being shown as part of an exercise in free speech rather than to endorse their content - just as European newspapers have reprinted the Danish cartoons.
One of the AEL cartoons displayed an image of Dutch Holocaust victim Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hitler, and another questioned whether the Holocaust actually occurred.
Dyab Abou Jahjah, the party's founder and best-known figure, defended the action on the Dutch television program Nova Saturday. "Europe has its sacred cows, even if they're not religious sacred cows," he told the program.
|But it's not like you've gone into hiding, is it? No one's threatened to behead you? No angry mob outside your office with matches, gasoline and pitchforks?|
Denying the Holocaust is illegal under most European hate speech laws, which outlaw intimidating or inciting hatred toward groups on the basis of their ethnic, cultural, religious or sexual identity. Complaints about alleged hate speech are common but prosecutions are rare and convictions very rare.
|And if you were convicted and failed to get the conviction overturned, you'd end up paying a fine. You could plead poverty and get out of that, too. Sorta different than being shot, beheaded or burned, but what do I know?|
The AEL espouses nonviolence but has gained a reputation for extremist views, and opposes Muslims integrating with non-Muslims. It promotes the participation of Muslims in political dialogue in European countries, but is internally divided as to whether or not to participate in elections directly.