Muslim website posts anti-Jewish cartoons

A Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organisation 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 yesterday because of exceeded bandwidth.

The 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 famed 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 on Saturday.

“Europe has its sacred cows, even if they’re not religious sacred cows,” he told the program.

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.

Yesterday, the Netherlands’ Centre for Information and Documentation Israel said it had filed a formal complaint in Amsterdam about the AEL cartoons.

Their publication is “a nightmare for the thousands of Jewish victims of the Holocaust who are still alive,” centre director Ronny Naftaniel said in a statement, adding that it was bizarre to retaliate against Jews for the Mohammed cartoons.

“This kind of expression is rightly not allowed in the Netherlands, not even under the guise of artistic expression as Abou Jahjah claims,” he said.

The AEL espouses non-violence, 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.

It stood in Belgian elections in 1999 and 2003 under different names but failed to get more than 1% of the vote. The Dutch arm has had problems finding a leader and has said it has no immediate plans to participate in elections.

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