Court orders men to visit Holocaust Memorial for anti-Semitic graffiti of Dutch footballer
Two men who created an anti-Semitic mural featuring Ajax footballer Steven Berghuis have been ordered to visit the Holocaust Memorial in Amsterdam. The two, a 42-year-old man from Hoogvliet and a 47-year-old Rotterdammer, must produce a written report of their visit, a judge in Rotterdam determined.
The caricature of Berghuis was discovered on July 24 on a wall on the Schuttersweg in the Rotterdam district of Crooswijk shortly after Berghuis was transferred from Feyenoord to rival club Ajax in Amsterdam. The Dutch national team player was depicted in concentration camp clothing, a yellow star with the letter J, a yarmulke, and a stereotypically large nose. Along side the caricature was the text "Jews always run away."
The mural measured about four square meters. Due to its offensive nature, the municipality of Rotterdam had it removed within a day. When issuing the verdict, the judge said the graffiti was a "shocking mural" and said it showed that the defendants had no ability to understand "what the Holocaust has done and continues to do to the Jewish community in general, and survivors and their relatives in particular." The judge also sentenced both men to 60 hours of community service.
It was "never the intention to insult anyone," said the suspect from Hoogvliet during the hearing last month. "If that happened then I'm sorry," he said. "It was more like a bit of satire, with maybe a bit of frustration in it."
The lawyer for M., the Rotterdam suspect, asked the court for a full acquittal when presenting the defense. His client did not produce the final "appalling, discriminatory and disgusting" picture, he claimed.
The Public Prosecution Service had demanded 60 hours of community service for both men. According to the public prosecutor, the duo was guilty of insulting the Jewish people as a group by creating the graffiti.
CIDI, the center for information and documentation on Israel, said it marked "a new low in football country," which has a history of anti-Semitism, particularly targetting Ajax. The Amsterdam club is sometimes considered by Dutch football fans as a Jewish team even though it has never had an affiliation with a Jewish organization. Some of the team's fans also refer to themselves as "Super Jews," which has prompted rival teams' fans to belt out anti-Semitic chants.
Feyenoord said the graffiti was "terrible and disgusting," adding that "this really has to stop."
Shortly after the mural appeared, Berghuis also revealed that he and his family were the targets of hate-filled threats after his transfer to Ajax. A police report was also filed in that case.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times