Amsterdam The Netherlands – Around 30 people were injured and the Dutch queen was briefly rushed to safety Tuesday when a screaming man with an Orthodox Jewish appearance, wearing clothing and hairstyle commonly associated with Orthodox Jews, caused panic among thousands of visitors at the country’s annual ceremony honoring World War II victims.
Security officers hustled Queen Beatrix away during the incident on Amsterdam’s Dam Square, but the Dutch monarch returned within minutes and the ceremony continued.
Police Commissioner Bernard Welten said the 39-year-old man, whose name was not released, appeared “confused” — a term Dutch police use to indicate a suspect may have psychological problems.
The suspect “made a confused impression,” after his arrest for creating a public disturbance, Welten said at a press conference.
“At the moment that he was arrested, we saw curly sideburns and we saw a hat that fits with the appearance that we know as Orthodox Jewish,” Welten said.
The man is from Amsterdam and has a long history of drug-related offenses, police said.
Footage of the incident showed a small number of people at first reacting to the screaming, and then a full-fledged panic after a police fence fell over with a crash. People uncertain of what was happening ran away from the disturbance in fright.
Afterward, parents comforted crying children. One young girl was carried away in the arms of a police officer.
Injuries ranged from cuts and bruises to broken bones — all caused by people being trampled or pushed over in the rush to escape.
The queen and other members of the royal family were quickly escorted to a side street by plainclothes officers.
Within minutes the master of ceremonies announced that someone among the visitors had fallen ill, and that the ceremony could continue. The crowd applauded.
The royal family returned, and the ceremonies resumed with the laying of wreaths at the city’s central war monument and a speech by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. The queen looked unsettled after her return but later sighed in relief and began smiling.
The incident came one year after Beatrix and her family were targeted in an assassination attempt by an unemployed recluse during the annual Queen’s Day national holiday. The man came within meters of slamming his car into the open-topped royal bus before he swerved into a stone monument, killing himself and seven others.