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Dutch News
Comics Joking About Islam Live in Fear 2/16/2007
AMSTERDAM — Actor and stand-up comedian Hans Teeuwen has launched a solidarity campaign to support his colleague Ewout Jansen, who has been receiving death threats from Muslim extremists because of his jokes, De Volkskrant writes.

Teeuwen says he finds it difficult to unite all fellow-comedians as one force, for many seem to be afraid to speak out for the "freedom of humour". Every comedian''s agenda tells you the exact time and place where he is going to perform. One or two phone calls with threats and he cannot perform at ease any more, Teeuwen explains.

Teeuwen will act as the spokesperson for the cabaret duo Ewout Jansen en Etiënne Kemerink, to distract the attention now focused on Jansen.

Meanwhile, the threats have been addressed not only to Jansen, but targeted at every form of satire somehow touching upon Islam.

This is why Ewout and Etienne are calling upon all Dutch comedians to join in filing collective charges against a member of the Amsterdam As Soenna Mosque named Kabli and the mosque''s current leadership.

At the end of January, Kabli told student magazine Folia that it was supposedly every Muslim''s task to fight back if jokes were made about Islam. Such jokes are called haram (reprehensible). If a comedian, despite having been warned, continues with his jokes, he must be punished or even killed, Kabli said in the interview.

Kabli added that Muslims felt "powerless" next to popular performers. "We could press charges, but any non-Muslim judge would decide against us", he said.

The Prosecutor''s Office is investigating whether Kabli and the leaders of the mosque can be indicted for their aggressive behaviour. Hans Teeuwen says an indictment in this case might only make matters worse. There is already a lot of self-censorship among the comedians, and theatre are cancelling bookings, Teeuwen says.

"I believe the only thing that can help is a protest coming from within the Muslim community itself", he adds.

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