By Maxime Garcia Diaz
— On January 23rd, three AUC students and one AUC professor were arrested by Spijkenisse police while protesting at a Geert Wilders event. In the Spijkenisse market, Wilders was handing out so-called ‘resistance sprays’ to women, for protection against sexual assault from refugees. Thirteen women, among them the three AUC students and professor, staged an anti-racist feminist action at the event, holding up signs and chanting “Wilders racist, not a feminist” in Dutch. After being held at the police station for six hours, they were each charged with refusal to show identification and disobeying a police order, and fined €460 per person. The protest garnered significant media attention from outlets such as NRC Handelsblad and Vice.
The initial idea for the action came from Donya Alinejad, AUC faculty member, and was communicated to other participants via Facebook. “I usually participate in an orderly fashion in demonstrations that are well-organized months in advance and have a speaker on a stage, or something,” said Alinejad. “I’ve never done anything like this, I’ve never been arrested before, I’ve never organized an action out of just my brain fart.” The organization began days before the Wilders event was scheduled to happen.
“We were really excited about the action. We thought nothing particular was gonna happen,” Isi Frey, third-year social sciences student, said. “None of us expected to be arrested because we were not doing anything illegal.”
In order to have a demonstration in the Netherlands, the organizer has an ‘aanmeldplicht’: an obligation to announce their plans to the municipality. However, Willem Jebbink, the group’s lawyer, said, “Even if you don’t abide by this “aanmeldplicht”, it doesn’t mean that the demonstration is automatically forbidden.”
“The local authorities like to know so they can prepare logistically for it,” said Alinejad. “We thought if that’s the reason for the rule… we’re ten people, we don’t need any special police escort or entourage or anything like that.” According to Jebbink, demonstrations that have not been announced to the authorities are a common occurrence.
According to Frey, the protesters were asked to show identification before the action began. She also claimed group members were denied requests to speak with their lawyers. “The moment someone says that a certain person acts as lawyer the police has to approach that person,” said Jebbink. Although the police is required to inform detainees of their charges as soon as possible, the protesters also say they were not told what they were being charged with until several hours had passed.
Matilda Medard, second-year social sciences student, recalls the police attempting to reveal her identity in several ways, such as a man visiting her in her cell claiming to be an attorney for the detained. “He was a cop who had dressed up to play this role,” she said. Although he could not confirm this had happened, according to Jebbink a situation like this would mean the police is committing deception, which is not allowed.
Medard was held in a cell together with Alinejad, who is her tutor. She cited one incident during the detainment when Alinejad was taken to a separate cell by a police station employee who became physically intimidating. “Basically he said to me, get up those stairs before I kick you up those stairs,” said Alinejad. “I was like, she [Matilda] probably thinks I’m being beaten up in a cell or something.”
During the action itself, bystanders shouted sexually aggressive things at the protesters. Video footage shows one person who can be heard saying “you deserve to be raped” repeatedly in Dutch. “If anything it made me feel sad, but it didn’t really freak me out,” said Medard.
“It was really surprising for me how much sexual fantasy is part of this,” said Frey. “They are lusting for Muslim d–ks, they are too ugly for Dutch d–ks – essentially it’s rape fantasies.” The protesters have expressed frustration at what they see as the extreme right’s appropriation of feminism in order to justify racism. “There’s nothing feminist about handing out pepper spray anyway,” said Frey, “because it’s not the fact that you don’t have pepper spray that gets you raped. It’s the rapist that rapes you.”
According to Spijkenisse police, the officers at the scene asked the protesters several times to move to a different location, appointed by the mayor. The police denies that requests to speak to lawyers were refused.
The protesters intend to not pay their fines, which will result in a summons to court. Willem Jebbink plans to argue that the arrest itself was illegitimate because the police did not have adequate grounds for requesting identification from the protesters.