Man in court accused of posting offensive Facebook comment on Zwarte Piet

Photo: Facebook

A 31-year-old man is appearing in court on Monday accused of posting an offensive message on Facebook about opponents of Zware Piet. It is the first time prosecutors have brought charges for broadcasting insults on social media.

The man from Lelystad is one of eight people altogether who have been charged with offensive behaviour towards a group. Two years ago he wrote: ‘let them work as slaves again, then they won’t be able to complain,’ in response to a photograph of a protest by the Kick Out Zwarte Piet group.

Until now posts on social media have only led to prosecution if they are seen as inflammatory or threatening in nature. Earlier this year 20 people were convicted by the district court in Amsterdam of sending threatening, inflammatory and discriminatory messages to the former TV presenter turned politician Sylvana Simons.

In 2015 several people were fined for posting racist comments about a selfie featuring several black players in the Dutch national football team.

Willem Jebbink, a lawyer for the anti-Zwarte Piet activists, told NRC his clients had selected the 50 most offensive posts out of thousands to take to court. ‘It wasn’t a pleasant task,’ he said.