Last week’s arrest of cartoonist Gregorius Nekschot by a team of police and justice ministry officials, three years after a first complaint about his work, has sent shockwaves through the Netherlands.

Not that Nekschot is particularly famous or well-regarded outside a small internet circle. But the fact that justice officials took three years to arrest him – saying it took that long to carry out the investigation and track down his identity – raises a lot of questions.
For a start, why did it really take so long? After all, it only took a matter of days to track down the sender of hate emails to anti-immigration MP Geert Wilders.
And is arresting a minor satirist really the most effective way of combatting racial hatred and anti-Muslim sentiment? Is it not more likely to generate extra ammunition for scaremongers and anti-Islam campaigners? After all, Wilders did not mince his words when the news was broken.
And was it really necessary to send six plain-clothes police officers, a judge and the public prosecutor into Nechschot´s home in the early morning and then hold him overnight in a cell?
In the long run, all the officials will have succeeding in doing is turning a minor cartoonist who produces often puerile often extremely tasteless, drawings into an international cause célèbre.

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