The black flag of the Islamic State, formerly known as Isis, which has declared a new Muslim caliphate across Iraq and Syria, has been banned from public demonstrations in the Netherlands – in advance of a large pro-Palestine march scheduled for central Amsterdam tomorrow.
With more than 5,000 people expected to join the march in protest at Israeli shelling of Gaza, a police spokesman warned last night: “Nazi symbols, Hitler salutes and burning flags will not be tolerated. The same applies to the Isis flag. Demonstrators may not carry it.”
The decision – the first of its kind in Europe – was announced as a petition signed by more than 17,500 people called on the mayor of The Hague to resign for failing to take a harder line on a much smaller protest there last weekend at which the flags were prominent.
The mayor, Jozias van Aartsen, said on Monday “no limits had been exceeded”, despite video footage of some of the protestors chanting “Death to Jews”, which is illegal under incitement laws – while many more had their faces covered, which is also illegal.
The mayor’s discomfiture was increased when the public prosecutor viewed the footage following complaints from Jewish organisations, and two men were arrested within 24 hours and charged with “inciting violence against a group of people on the basis of their race or beliefs”.
Tensions increased further midweek when a Jewish woman living alone in Amsterdam hung an Israeli flag from her balcony, only to be beaten up by three men “wearing Palestinian-style scarves” who later broke into her apartment.
Seraphina Verhofstadt-Makker reached a can of spray paint as she struggled with her attackers, and police said the men may have traces of red paint on their skin or clothes.
The attack brought a chorus of protest led by Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan, who said: “It would be completely intolerable if people in our city could act this way and get away with it. That will not happen. The police are on top of it.”
Labour MP Ahmed Marcouch, a Muslim of Moroccan origin and a former police officer, called the assault “disgusting”, while the fundamentalist Christian party SGP said it was “shocked to see hatred of Jews becoming commonplace”. All the more reason, it said, to “come down hard on anti-Semitism”.
At the same time, the owner of a driving school is being sought by police after placing video on Facebook in which he describes Jews as “zombies”, says “zombies should be shot dead”, and then fires a pistol in the air several times. Facebook removed the video.