Dutch law enforcement officials arrested an 18-year-old woman for allegedly inciting violence against a Rotterdam teacher over a cartoon that offended Muslim students. The unidentified teacher has since gone into hiding prompting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to react strongly against the threats.
Local media reported that Emmauscollege high school in Rotterdam held a memorial for French teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded in October by an Islamist teen for showing cartoons of Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Following the memorial, the Dutch teacher held a discussion about the prophet's cartoon that lead to Paty's killing.
During the discussion, female Muslim students raised an objection to a satirical cartoon depicting radical Islamic terror. The cartoon showed a decapitated person wearing a shirt that had "Charlie Hebdo" written on it. The decapitated person's tongue stuck out at a bearded man who held a sword, with the word "immortal" below it, the Dutch newspaper NRC reported.
The students told the teacher that the cartoon was blasphemous. However, the teacher clarified that the cartoon did not depict the prophet but a terrorist. The cartoon became viral on social media after which the teacher received threats online prompting him to go into hiding.
According to the NRC, the cartoon hung in the classroom for five years but the students took an objection only after Paty's memorial. Police arrested the 18-year-old woman and launched an investigation into the threats. It remained unclear whether the woman was a student of Emmauscollege high school.
The incident grabbed Prime Minister Rutte's attention who slammed intolerance and threats against the teacher. He said Dutch people should be able to discuss such topic without any pressure.
"We must be able to discuss topics such as freedom of expression in our classrooms without any outside pressure. It may hurt when someone has an opinion that conflicts with your worldview or religious conviction, but they have a right to say so in all liberty", Rutte said on Friday.
Paty's beheading received widespread condemnation in France and triggered a debate over freedom of speech in Europe. French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the killing and said that France "will not give up cartoons." The statement outraged Muslim leaders across the world and called for the boycott of French products.