Dutch Govt. To Citizens: If You Insult Erdogan, You’re On Your Own

Dutch journalist

After a Dutch journalist was arrested in Turkey the Dutch Foreign Minister has said there are no guarantees for those who insult Ankara.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders has warned both Dutch journalists and citizens alike against insulting the Turkish government and it’s President Tayyip Erdogan. He told, in a parliamentary debate, that any Dutch citizens who insulted the country on social media and travelled to Turkey had  “no guarantees” from the Dutch government and may be on their own, Die Welt reports.

The comments follow the arrest of Dutch journalist Ebru Umar who was arrested while on vacation in Turkey. The Turkish government accused Umar of insulting the Turkish government after she wrote a column critical of the Turkish consulate in the Netherlands.

The consulate had sent out an email telling Turkish groups in the Netherlands to report any social media activity by Dutch citizens that may be insulting toward the Middle Eastern nation. Koenders mentioned Umar in the debate saying, “we just had a case which shows exactly what can happen.”

Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte has been deeply critical of both the Turkish consulate’s email and of the actions of Ankara in regard to Ebru Umar. He has said that he was “surprised” over what he called the “peculiar” behaviour of the Turks and phoned Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in regard to the affair.

Dutch embassy officials in Ankara have said that the government is trying to come to a solution with Turkey in order to get Umar back to the Netherlands. He added that while they are working on a solution he could not promise that any Dutch citizen who Turkey believes has insulted them, would be safe travelling to Turkey.

In regard to the Turkish government he made it clear that if they wish to continue moving toward membership of the European Union then they must compromise and, “deal with media and freedom of the press.”

The most famous case of insulting Turkey revolves around German satirist Jan Böhmermann who deliberately tried to insult the Turkish president as much as possible in a poem he read on his television program. Germans have been deeply critical of the response from Chancellor Angela Merkel who has not stepped in to dismiss the charges against Böhmermann.

Merkel, in fact, gave the authorization for the prosecution of Böhmermann to take place which has inflamed critics of her regime and those who support free speech in Germany.

Since 2014 when President Erdogan took power there have been over 2,000 lawsuits and criminal trials for artists, journalists, academics and others who the Turkish government believes has insulted Turkey or Erdogan himself. Some of the critics arrested were journalists that pointed out links between jihadi groups in Syria and the Turkish government.