THE HAGUE - The Dutch justice minister, a dour Calvinist named Piet Hein Donner, has astonished his countrymen by fighting a 'rap duel' with the mayor of Maastricht over drug laws.
Those pushing for the liberalisation of laws on the growth and sale of cannabis have been rallying around a record by an established band featuring guest vocals by the mayor.
Maastricht is close to the border with Germany and Belgium and attracts some 1.5 million 'drug tourists' a year, who cram into 'coffee shops' where use of the drug is tolerated.
Its mayor, Gerd Leers, lent his modest rapping talents to a song calling for an end to the anomaly whereby cannabis use is not prosecuted but its sale and production is.
His song, That's just dope, was released as a single a few weeks ago and attracted favourable publicity. Lines from the mayor's song run:
'A joint is allowed, as long as the grower is never seen,
That's ridiculous, isn't it?
Don't be so hypocritical,
Allowing half doesn't work.'
This weekend the minister hit back. The ministry website carries a photograph of Mr Donner, re-named 'The Don', singing at a microphone and looking deeply uncomfortable.
The chorus of his rap song runs:
'This is Donner of the Just-ice,
I work with the pol-ice,
I shove that dope aside,
Because an addicted Netherlands,
Is something I don't want to see.'