May 4, 2010 / 7:00 PM / 9 years ago

Dutch prosecutor appeals Holocaust cartoon acquittal

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch public prosecutor has appealed against a court ruling acquitting a Muslim group of insulting Jews with a cartoon suggesting they invented the Holocaust, in a case testing the bounds of free speech.

The court ruled last month the cartoon published by the Arab European League (AEL) showed “bad taste” and was “exceptionally offensive,” but it acquitted the group on charges it insulted Jews because of the context in which the cartoon was published.

In announcing its appeal, the public prosecutor said on Tuesday it was essential to determine whether the cartoon was “unnecessarily offensive,” adding it was not certain whether the cartoon was designed as a contribution to the social debate.

The AEL cartoon shows two men, beneath an Auschwitz sign and beside several bodies, saying the victims might not have been Jewish but the target was 6 million — the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The AEL, which published the cartoon in 2006 after a Danish newspaper published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad, had said it did not seek to dispute the Holocaust, but wanted instead to highlight perceived double standards in free speech.

The court ruled last month the AEL’s rights to publish the cartoon, given its intentions, must be safeguarded, and the context of its publication removed its criminally offensive nature.

A Danish newspaper cartoon in 2005 showing Prophet Mohammad with a bomb in his turban sparked violent protests in Muslim countries. The backlash prompted the newspaper to apologies, but the Danish government defended its right to freedom of speech.

The AEL did not complain about the republication in the Netherlands of the cartoons, but argued its own cartoon was meant to show how other religious groups were also sensitive about certain images.

Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block

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