Netherlands – Court: Anti-Jewish Football Chants are Illegal


    Netherlands – The Dutch High Court ruled that the chant ‘Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas’ is punishable by law because it is offensive to Jews, even when it is used to taunt rival football supporters.

    In 2006, a supporter of The Hague football club ADO was arrested for chanting the phrase in the street. He was charged with using language offensive to a particular group, and sentenced to 80 hours community service.

    The supporter appealed against the verdict, claiming he had not deliberately intended to offend Jews. In his defence it was argued that “The chant is frequently used by football supporters and forms a part of the culture of supporters, who do not intend to offend Jewish people, but to provoke other supporters.” Namely those of rivals Ajax from Amsterdam.

    However, the high court rejected this argument and upheld the original verdict.

    In Dutch football culture, Ajax and their supporters are commonly referred to as ‘Jews’. Prior to the Second World War, Amsterdam had a large Jewish population, and Ajax had many Jewish fans. Supporters of other teams referred to Ajax supporters as ‘Jews’ as a term of abuse, but the Amsterdam fans went on to adopt the term as a badge of honour. They themselves sing songs in which they refer to being Jewish.

    This has led to the phenomenon that the Israeli flag is commonly used by fans as a team symbol, and often features prominently in the stands at Ajax matches – although it is not in fact intended to have any political reference to Israel.

    Chants such as “Hamas, Hamas, gas all the Jews” (in Dutch Hamas is rhymed with gas) are strictly banned in stadiums. Earlier this year Amsterdam and Rotterdam mayors, Job Cohen and Ahmed Aboutaleb, threatened a five-year ban on supporters at matches between Ajax and Rotterdam team Feyenoord if fans chanted offensive slogans.

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