Leiden Law Blog

Population of Holland also “marked for death”?

Population of Holland also “marked for death”?

Geert Wilders’ recent book is entitled Marked for Death: Islam’s War Against the West and Me (2012). The title refers to the peculiar situation the writer finds himself in, viz. to be the target of terrorist organizations and individual terrorists worldwide. What few people in the Netherlands realize, is that by simply letting an author live in their midst who writes such a book, the population of the country itself is – although to a lesser degree than the author himself – “marked for death”.

Why? Because we live in a world where there are terrorists around. The problem terrorists confront us with is this. Art. 83a of the Dutch Penal Code does not only provide us with a definition of terrorism, but also with an interesting moral conundrum. According to article 83a, characteristic for terrorism is the aim:

  1. To strike fear into the heart of the population of a country;
  2. To force the government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing something, or
  3. To destroy or derange the fundamental political, constitutional or social structures of a country or international organization.

The moral challenge is this. Is the Dutch population (or government) willing to destroy one of the most fundamental political, constitutional or social structures it has developed, viz. the principle of free thought, free speech, and free expression as enshrined in article 7 of the Dutch Constitution and article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights?

To withdraw your troops from Afghanistan on the behest of theoterrorist NGO’s is easy enough, but changing the constitution is quite another matter. It affects the way we live here, in our own country. After the acquittal of Wilders in his recent trial, the Netherlands again made itself into a more dangerous country.

What to do? On 29 February 2008 during a session of the talk-show of Pauw & Witteman dedicated to the publication of Wilders’ film Fitna, journalist Henk Hofland proposed to remove Wilders’ personal security guards. His idea was: Wilders made the population of the country more unsafe (according to Hofland, apparently, it was not Al Qaida that made the Netherlands unsafe, but Wilders). Why not force him into silence?

Hmm, difficult. What would Hofland say about the publication of Wilders’ book? Would he make a distinction between the film Fitna and the book Marked for Death? Or would Hofland think Wilders’ book is also a good reason to remove his personal guards?

Let us see how this debate develops. For now: the discussion has not even begun yet. Most people do not even realize there is a moral problem at all.

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