Over 150 AZ fans detained for anti-Semitic chants in Amsterdam metro won't be prosecuted
The 154 AZ Alkmaar fans who were arrested in May for group insult after singing anti-Semitic songs in the Amsterdam metro before a football game between Ajax and AZ will not be prosecuted, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) announced on Tuesday. The OM stated it could not establish “a clear link between the individual members of the arrested group and the group insult.”
The incident occurred on May 6. Ajax was playing a home game at the Johan Cruijff ArenA against AZ Alkmaar. A group of AZ supporters were going from Amsterdam Centraal Station to the Johan Cruijff ArenA by metro and were reportedly singing anti-Semitic songs. The police reported that the AZ supporters were warned several times to stop but did not comply. As a result, the subway was stopped at Strandvliet station around 7:30 p.m., and 154 people were arrested for group insult. During the arrest, officers were allegedly insulted, threatened and assaulted.
According to NH Nieuws, this incident included chants about sending Jews to gas chambers or wishing for their death. Ajax has long been viewed by some as a “Jewish” team because the team is based in Amsterdam, though it has never actually had an affiliation with any Jewish organization. Anti-Semitic chants targeting Ajax and its fans, who sometimes refer to themselves as "Super Jews", have gone on for decades.
The OM explained on Tuesday that criminal law primarily targets individuals, which necessitates the identification of each suspect's involvement in a crime. Despite “an extensive investigation,” police could not determine the exact individuals who sang the anti-Semitic chants. Consequently, the prosecutor ruled that there is inadequate legal and conclusive evidence to prosecute them for group insult.
The prosecutor emphasized that discriminatory expressions are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. "That such songs are sung in Amsterdam, two days after the National Remembrance of the Dead on Dam Square, makes it even more painful," the OM wrote in the dismissal letter sent to the arrested supporters.
In a reaction, CIDI, an association working on behalf of Jewish rights, stated that it was "good that the police immediately got these AZ supporters licked; too bad that the OM didn't follow through. It sends the message that people can apparently get away with this, as long as it happens in a large group."
Goed dat de politie deze AZ-supporters direct lik op stuk heeft gegeven; wel jammer dat @Het_OM niet heeft doorgepakt. Het geeft het signaal af dat mensen hier blijkbaar mee weg kunnen komen, zolang het maar in een grote groep gebeurt.https://t.co/UzsSmYOwEZ— CIDI (@CIDI_nieuws) September 5, 2023
The incident was largely condemned in May. A spokesperson for Mayor Femke Halsema called the incident "unacceptable." "It is particularly painful that this happened so shortly after the commemoration on May 4th."
AZ also condemned the behavior of some of its supporters. "AZ rejects and condemns the fact that a small section of its supporters uttered hurtful speech chants on their way to the stadium on Saturday night," the Alkmaar Eredivisionist wrote on its website. "The club strongly disapproves of inflammatory behavior and discrimination in any form and emphatically distances itself from those who were guilty of this."
In response to the incident, Central Jewish Consultation chairman Chanan Hertzberger said, "The Central Jewish Consultation is satisfied with the decision to intervene and directly combat anti-Semitism."
Future visits by AZ supporters to Amsterdam will face restrictions due to the incident in May. During the next Ajax-AZ game on October 8, only half of the AZ supporters will be allowed to attend.