40 hours’ work order for telling Zwarte Piet campaigners to ‘go work as slaves’

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A man who posted a racist message on Facebook in response to a demonstration against Zwarte Piet has been ordered to carry out 40 hours’ unpaid work.

The 31-year-old man from Lelystad said protesters at the welcoming parade in 2015 should be ‘put to work again as slaves’, adding: ‘work off that lazy sweat, nikker, that’s what you were born for.’

The message was one of 50 out of 19,000 posts highlighted by activists in the first case to use social media activity as the basis for a charge of offensive behaviour towards a group. A lawyer for the campaigners told the district court in Utrecht that the messages were discriminatory, threatening and incited hatred.

The court sentenced the man to a 40-hour compulsory work order, 20 hours of which were suspended.

The prosecution service is bringing cases against nine people altogether for posting offensive messages. Previous cases involving tweets and online posts have focused on direct threats or inflammatory language, such as the messages sent to politician Sylvana Simons when she joined the minorities’ rights party Denk.

One of the campaigners involved in today’s case said it would send out ‘a signal to society that racist and violent statements will not be accepted’.