Police in Amsterdam have arrested 154 football fans for singing anti-Semitic chants on a train en route to Saturday’s game, officials said.
The supporters continued singing and chanting after being told to stop, police said, and were later arrested on charges including insulting the group on the basis of their race, religion or beliefs.
Arrested was a supporter of team AZ Alkmaar from a town about 40 minutes drive northwest of the capital Amsterdam. They intended to see their team play against Ajax, a club with roots in the historically Jewish part of the city.
“Violence, insults and other criminal behavior will not be tolerated,” police said in a statement, adding that 11 fans were jailed overnight for allegedly smashing windows and assaulting police officers. .
This is not the first instance of anti-Semitism in Dutch football, directed specifically at the Amsterdam team.
“This is a stubborn issue,” said Naomi Mestrum, director of the Center for Information and Documentation of Israel (CIDI), a Dutch organization that fights anti-Semitism. The difference in this case, she said, was that the police acted in the moment and made an immediate arrest.
“Usually we file charges later,” she said. CIDI filed a lawsuit in April against someone who made anti-Semitic remarks through a microphone outside a football stadium in Rotterdam. Dutch media reported that prosecutors were conducting an investigation.
Football club AZ Alkmaar accused of arresting fans on Saturday chantIn a statement, the team said: “The club strongly condemns inflammatory behavior and discrimination and categorically distances itself from those responsible.
Although Ajax currently has no Jewish players and was not founded as a Jewish club, the emblem of Jewish identity has long been associated with the Amsterdam team, which has prominent Jewish players and officials. It has been taken. The Israeli flag is often seen during matches and even sold outside the stadium. Die-hard fans, even non-Jews, wear Star of David necklaces to support the club.
The time has come for it to end, said Ms. Mestrum. “Ajax has nothing to do with Jews anymore,” she said. However, she added that football competition and the abuse that comes with it has an impact on how Jews are perceived in society.
“People’s awareness continues to decline,” Msstrum said. “I am particularly concerned about the lack of historical awareness and the seriousness of anti-Semitism.”
Saturday’s arrest came two days after the Dutch National Day, which commemorates the Dutch victims of war, including those killed in the Holocaust and throughout World War II.
“On May 4, we will commemorate the victims of war, including 102,000 of our compatriots who were deported to the gas chambers,” said Ms. Mestram. These chants “show a complete lack of fan awareness.”
In December 2022, the Dutch government announced plans to combat anti-Semitism in the Netherlands to show the country is taking the issue seriously.
Mestram said anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise in the Netherlands. Mestram’s organization has recorded 183 incidents in 2021, excluding online abuse, a 36% increase from the previous year.the country has about 30,000 Jews With a population of 17 million, the community is concentrated in Amsterdam, according to the World Jewish Congress.
In the United States, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2022 was the highest since the Anti-Defamation League began tracking them in 1979, Jewish advocacy groups say.
Outside of football, racism and anti-Semitic slogans are also a problem in the Netherlands.Towards the New Year, white supremacist phrases including “happy white people 2023” Projected on the bridges of RotterdamIn February, anti-Semitic phrases based on conspiracy theories Projected in the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.