Sunday

17th Feb 2019

German Holocaust ban idea meeting resistance

EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini has spoken in favour of a German proposal to criminalise denial of the Holocaust across the 27-member bloc - but the fiercest resistance against such a move comes from Frattini's own country, Italy.

Mr Frattini said he 'very much welcomes and fully supports' the plan drawn up by Germany, which currently runs the rotating presidency of the EU.

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He made his comments ahead of the International Day of Commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust on January 27 – the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945.

"The commission firmly condemns and rejects all manifestations of anti-semitism, racism and xenophobia," Mr Frattini said in a statement.

The German justice minister Brigitte Zypries proposed earlier this month that all EU states should criminalise Holocaust denial and ban the public display of Nazi insignia, as Germany itself does, arguing that it would make a significant difference to combating racism, anti-semitism and xenophobia in Europe today.

A similar plan previously proposed by Luxembourg was blocked by some member states – such as Denmark, Italy and the UK - due to freedom of expression concerns.

Hours before a UN resolution - urging members to "reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event" - was passed in New York on Friday, the Italian government published a draft law which proposes penalties of up to three years in jail for inciting racial hatred, but which stops short of making Holocaust denial a crime.

Berlin had looked to the new government in Rome for support for its drive for a common EU law, saying that would pave the way for standardisation.

But Italian justice minister Clemente Mastella failed to win support for a more explicit bill with some 200 historians having voiced their objection saying such a move would violate free speech, according to AFP.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad late last year held an anti-Holocaust conference in which he dismissed the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators in World War II as a lie.

Nine EU member states currently have laws against Holocaust denial: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

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