Calls from countries with a largely Muslim population to ban Geert Wilders film Fitna have fallen on deaf ears in the Netherlands, where freedom of expression is seen as an unassailable right. NRC Handelsblad’s legal affairs correspondent, explains the options. No, at least not in principle. The Dutch constitution does not allow censorship, which is defined in Article 7 as the freedom to publish or show anything without prior consent. This freedom applies not just to the printing press. It also covers art, movies, photos, cartoons – indeed any medium that can be used to express oneself. It’s a basic civil right and a founding principle of Dutch democracy. Basic civil rights also include the freedom of religion, protection from discrimination and the right to equal treatment. In democratic societies these basic rights are sacrosanct and protect individual citizens from the potential abuse of power by governments. Folkert Jensma report.

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