The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
The leader of the Dutch branch of anti-Islam movement Pegida was arrested at a demonstration in Ede on Saturday for refusing to take off a child's hat shaped like a pig he was wearing during the rally.
A few dozen people carrying Dutch flags and placards took part in the gathering in protest at plans to locate several refugee centres capable of accommodating up to 1,400 people in the town.
Edwin Wagensveld, who has connections to far-right and neo-nazi groupings, was released after an hour and described his arrest as 'childish'.
NLTimes.nl likewise reports:
Two people were arrested during an anti-asylum center protest organized by anti-Islam movement Pegida in Ede on Saturday. One of those arrested was Pegida frontman Edwin Wagensveld. He was wearing a hat in the form of a pig's head at the time, broadcaster NOS reports.
According to the police, Wagensveld was arrested because of provocative behavior. He put on the hat after the police ordered another protester to take it off. Wagensveld was released about an hour after his arrest. The other detainee is still in custody.
It sounds from these reports that Wagensveld was indeed detained simply for wearing the hat, and not for other behavior. (I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of the reports, but if you have any information that casts doubt on them, please let me know.) The DutchNews.nl report also states that "two dead pigs were found dumped at one of the potential locations for a refugee centre" and "Dead pigs and pigs' heads have been left at several other refugee centre locations around the country." Dumping animal carcasses would be rightly punishable, I think, for reasons unrelated to the underlying message: disease, smell, attraction of insects and other scavengers, cleanup costs. Wearing a pig hat, on the other hand, is simply expression of a political idea.
If you were a foe of Muslim immigration into the Netherlands, and you wanted a symbol to show your countrymen that it threatens Dutch liberties, what better than getting detained for wearing a fluffy pig-shaped hat?
UPDATE: Dr. Jogchum Vrielink (University of Leuven, Belgium) reports that the sources cited above "are largely correct, but technically [the incident didn't involve] an actual 'arrest,' but rather a temporary apprehension at the scene." I've revised the post (but not the quotes, of course) to say that he was detained rather than arrested. Detaining a protest leader during a protest raises many of the same questions, I think, as arresting him outright.