Two face prosecution for inciting violence against teacher over anti-jihad cartoon
Two people will face a criminal court hearing on accusations that they tried to get others to commit acts of violence against a secondary school teacher for his use of a cartoon in support of the controversial French satire magazine, Charlie Hebdo. The Public Prosecution Service (OM) . The two Rotterdammers, now aged 20 and 22, will be prosecuted on suspicion of inciting violence or criminal acts when the incident happened more than two years ago.
Charlie Hebdo. Nooit opzij. pic.twitter.com/MJwGKPQ8jU— Joep Bertrams (@joepbertrams) January 7, 2015
The teacher at the Emmauscollege had placed a copy of a Joep Bertram cartoon on a bulletin board at the secondary school in November 2020. The image was of a decapitated person wearing a Charlie Hebdo shirt who was sticking their tongue out at a jihadist. Bertram created the cartoon in response to the terrorist assault on the Charlie Hebdo editorial office in Paris that left 12 dead and 11 injured.
On November 2, the school took part in a memorial for French teacher Samuel Paty who was brutally killed in a beheading in a suburb of Paris a few weeks earlier. The teacher used the occasion to hang a copy of Bertram’s cartoon on a bulletin board. The cartoon angered a group of Muslim girls, according to NRC, who demanded it be removed, saying the teacher was guilty of blasphemy. They disagreed with the teacher, who said that the cartoon showed a jihadist holding a machete, and not the Prophet Muhammad.
A photo of the cartoon in the classroom then made rounds on social media “with an accompanying commentary. The school and a teacher were then very seriously threatened,” the OM said. “The teacher even had to go into hiding for some time.”
The OM offered an alternative to a trial to the two suspects, prosecutors said on Tuesday. This would have resulted in a settlement including punishment but without going to court. The suspects did not agree to the alternative deal, the OM said.
Nine people ranging in age from 13 to 24 were arrested in the weeks that followed the incident. One person agreed to serve 40 hours of community service in a deal with the OM, another agreed to a fine of 350 euros, and a third agreed with the OM to attend a youth intervention program called Halt, according to newswire ANP. One suspect will appear in a hearing in June, while charges against three others were dropped.
Joep Bertram’s cartoon, titled “Onsterfelijk,” or “Immortal,” won the Inktspotprijs in 2015 as the best political cartoon of the year. "I drew a jihadist, not the prophet. I find it very annoying that students did not understand that properly. When I read about those threats to the teacher, I really thought: damn it, that sucks for the teacher. And all that because of a relatively innocent drawing," Bertram said in response to the Rotterdam incident.