Dutch divided over law against insulting the king


It may be one of Europe’s most liberal states, but in the Netherlands reverence for the monarchy appears hard to kick. A divide has emerged in the Dutch coalition government over an attempt by one of the ruling parties to scrap a law that makes insulting King Willem-Alexander a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

The Netherlands is one of the few European countries to retain a law of lèse-majesté, from the Latin laesa maiestatis, meaning injury to the majesty. The last case in the Netherlands was brought in 2016.The Dutch house of representatives is due to debate the issue this week, but differences within the governing coalition have already become evident.

While the Greens, socialists and Labour party are backing the initiative by the liberals in the D66 party, they are facing opposition from the Christian parties in government – the CDA and the more conservative Christian Union. Chris van Dam, an MP in the CDA, told the Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf: “We are talking about the king, our king who cannot defend himself in the public debate.” Under the proposals from D66, Willem-Alexander would still be protected by laws designed to stop speech liable to incite discrimination or hatred.(theguardian)…[+]