Dutch cops are policing anti-mass migration comments, even threatening social media users of “sedition” for opposing government policies. The news has emerged after police paid visits to warn multiple people who made anti-mass migration comments on social media, reports DW.com. Mark Jongeneel, a small business owner in the Dutch city of Sliedrecht, tweeted: “The college of Sliedrecht has a proposal to receive 250 refugees in the coming 2 years. What a bad plan! #letusresist”
Mr. Jongeneel then got a visit to his mother’s house, and subsequently his place of work, from police who wanted to warn him over his comments.
Speaking to DW.com, he described the events: “I asked them what the problem was and they said ‘your tweets.’
“They asked me to be careful about my Twitter behaviour, because if there are riots, then I’m responsible.”
“You tweet a lot,” said the police, explaining: “We have orders to ask you to watch your tone. Your tweets may seem seditious”.
It can only be surmised that police were referring to the hashtag #letusresist when talking about responsibility for anyone rioting. The hashtag, which in Dutch is #kominVerzet, is commonly used by people who oppose mass migration, mostly sharing articles and videos and expressions of anger and anxiety.
Nowhere in the hashtag could it be seen that anyone was mentioning organised rioting or violence.
And Mr. Jongeneel was not the only person visited by police. Another Dutch man by the name of Johan from Kaatsheuvel was visited after he had posted a Facebook status that said: “There was a meeting in the council hall, an information evening, just for the people of our city.” He added: “we had to get together at the market square to have a protest, because, I will be very honest, we’re not happy with the asylum seekers in our country.”
The city of Kaatsheuvel has plans to house at least 1,200 migrants and Johan’s protest at the market was meant to merely show his resistance to the idea. Police allegedly intimidated Johan into not going ahead with his protest and he wrote after their visit, “just had a visit from the police with the friendly request not to call for a meeting at the market tomorrow or Monday.”
According to a friend of Johan’s, who wished to remain anonymous, between seven or eight others were also visited by police in the town that day for similar social media posts.
New Europe reports:
In recent months, police have visited the homes of many more people that criticised the plans for asylum centres. In October 2015, in Leeuwarden about twenty opponents of the programs received police visits at home. It happened in Enschede, and in some places in the Brabant, where, according to the Dutch media, people who had been critical of the arrival of refugees and ran a page on social media on the topic were told to stop.
A spokesman for the national police acknowledged to Handelsblad that there are ten intelligence units of “digital detectives” monitoring in real time Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and looking for posts that go “too far”.
The visits are likely in response to the multiple riots in small towns over the construction of asylum centres. Dutch police even fired tear gas into protestors in the small town of Geldermalsen after beer bottles and fireworks were thrown. Rioters attempted to force their way into a town hall meeting which was discussing the plans for a 1,500 person asylum centre in a town of only 27,000.
Small towns in the Netherlands and in Germany have had to bear a disproportional cost for the migrant crisis, as governments have sent large amounts of migrants into or around these small towns. The migrants are often housed in nearby holiday resorts as in the case of Oranje, where a town of 140 people bore the brunt of having 700 refugees housed nearby. Angry locals tried to blockade the road to stop migrant filled busses from getting to the nearby resort but eventually gave up.
The German government has stated the reason why it has sent so many migrants to small towns, saying, “the rural regions are a laboratory of integration,” citing the lack of ability for ghettos to emerge in smaller towns unlike cities. The government also mentions how migrants will shore up “dwindling populations” already in the countryside.
The Dutch police have commented positively on their campaign and a spokesman has said that they find it effective. Mark Jongeneel has said he refuses to change his language on social media, emphasising his desire for free speech and saying, “I will not be silenced.”