The Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam has infuriated the Netherlands’ parliament members by appealing to Turkish organizations to report any cases of insults related to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Turkish embassy initially declined to comment on the unusual request, claiming it had simply seen an increase in hate messages. Later, however, the consulate said, one of its employees had used an regrettable choice of words in an email sent to Turkish groups in the Netherlands, which was interpreted as a campaign against free speech.
The Dutch ministry has demanded an explanation from, as well as summoned, the Turkish ambassador. Dutch politicians also have negatively reacted to this news by calling it a “disturbing interference” by Ankara and have called for the law that threatens prosecution for insulting foreign powers to be removed from the constitution.
The outrageous order came on the heels of the prosecution of Jan Boehmermann, a German TV show host who wrote a lewd poem about the Turkish president and whom Erdogan demanded be punished. The fact that a foreign power should have so much influence in the affairs of another country has sparked an outcry in the entire EU and U.K.
Now, the Netherlands is set to abolish the age-old law, announced Justice Minister Ard van der Steur on Wednesday, claiming the constitution should not be a “museum for out-of-date articles.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has also vowed that article 103 of the German criminal code, which penalizes for insulting a head of state, will be dissolved by 2018.