European Jewish Congress
 Belgian court orders Holocaust-denying former MP to visit Nazi concentration camps
Belgium
Belgian court orders Holocaust-denying former MP to visit Nazi concentration camps

A former lawmaker in Belgium convicted of Holocaust denial in 2015 was handed an unusual sentence last week: the Brussels Court of Appeal ordered him to visit one Nazi concentration camp a year for the next five years and write about his experiences.

The politician, Laurent Louis, is a far-right former MP known for making inflammatory statements about Jews. He once called former Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo, the first gay man to hold the post, a pedophile. Louis left Parliament in 2014.

Louis was given a six-month suspended jail sentence and fined 20,000 euros at his 2015 trial, which centred on online statements he made that questioned the number of Jews killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust. After that sentence was changed on Wednesday, he celebrated on Facebook and apologised “to anyone who may have been hurt by my remarks.”

“All that is left for me to do is to go and report in the death camps,” he wrote in a statement. “No doubt, the Court has recognised my talents as a writer.”

Louis is a marginal figure in Belgium, but political observers said his case illustrated growing worries about antisemitism as well as the different approaches that the United States and Europe have taken in response to the expression of far-right views.

Vocal support for Nazism and denial or expressions of doubt about the Holocaust are criminal offenses in more than a dozen European countries, including France, Germany, Belgium and Poland. The type of punishment handed down to Louis is rare but happened in Hungary in 2013.

In his statement on Wednesday, Louis said he would obey the ruling and “repent every year in a death camp.” In addition to being “very educational and very powerful on a human level,” he said the experience would also be a chance to “denounce current genocides.” That is language he has used in the past to refer to Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip.

Louis joined and left or was expelled from several parties during his time in Parliament, often because of his racist declarations.

Among them was a 2014 speech in defence of Dieudonné M’Bala M’Bala, a French comedian who has been tried repeatedly for antisemitic statements.

In the speech, Louis said Zionism was “worse” than Nazism and falsely claimed that the Talmud compared non-Jews to monkeys and that it “authorises” Jews to rape non-Jewish children. Defending Dieudonné, he said the Holocaust was “one of the only historical facts that cannot be called into question.”

Click here to read the full article in New York Times

Monday, September 25, 2017
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