Dutch PM wants answers on Turkey's call to Turks in the Netherlands to report those who insult Erdogan

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks during a statement following the Ministerial Committee on Crisis Management, on March 22, 2016.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks during a statement following the Ministerial Committee on Crisis Management, on March 22, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

EINDHOVEN (AFP) - Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Thursday (April 21) that he will ask Ankara to clarify a call to Turks in the Netherlands to report individuals who insult Turkey or its president.

Mr Rutte said he was surprised by the apparent plea to Turks living in the country to report insulting or negative comments about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Turkey to the country's consulate in Rotterdam.

A political storm erupted on Thursday after several Dutch newspapers reported an e-mail apparently sent by the consulate to Turkish organisations in the Netherlands, which asked people to forward disparaging emails and posts on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

"I am surprised. It's not clear what the Turkish government aims to achieve with this action," Mr Rutte told journalists during a joint press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the southern city of Eindhoven.

"Our ambassador in Ankara will ask for an explanation," he said.

The Turkish consulate for its part said the note was sent by a consular official who used an "unfortunate choice of words" that was misinterpreted.

Dutch lawmakers were indignant following the reports, demanding a reaction from Mr Rutte's government on how it planned to deal with the issue.

It follows outrage in Germany after the government there gave a green-light for the authorities to begin criminal proceedings against popular comic Jan Boehmermann for performing a satirical poem about Mr Erdogan on television.

German prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into Mr Boehmermann and his so-called "Defamatory Poem" in which he accused Mr Erdogan of bestiality and watching child pornography.

Mr Boehmermann could be convicted under the rarely enforced section 103 of the criminal code - insulting representatives of foreign states.

The Netherlands has a similar law, but Dutch Justice Minister Ard van der Steur on Wednesday told lawmakers that he wanted to scrap it.