Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry

Recent Developments

Don’t trivialise Nazism – European Commission warns Spain

"Brussels (ACN), 02/09/2013- Warning to Spain by the European Commission: trivialising Nazism or other totalitarian regimes is unacceptable. “The intentional public condoning, denial or gross trivialisation of the Nazi crimes is to be made criminally punishable” said the Commissioner for Justice, Viviane Reding, the ACN can confirm. Following a complaint by Catalan MEPs about the honours received by a brotherhood of soldiers and supporters of the ‘División Azul’ that fought alongside the Nazis, Brussels warned that next year it will be able to fine member states that do not prosecute “incitement to violence or hatred”.

Brussels (ACN).- Warning to Spain by the European Commission: trivialising Nazism or other totalitarian regimes is unacceptable. “The intentional public condoning, denial or gross trivialisation of the Nazi crimes is to be made criminally punishable” said the Commissioner for Justice, Viviane Reding, the ACN can confirm. Following a complaint by Catalan MEPs about the honours received by a brotherhood of soldiers and supporters of the ‘División Azul’ that fought alongside the Nazis, Brussels warned that next year it will be able to fine member states that do not prosecute “incitement to violence or hatred”.

The Spanish Government representative in Catalonia, María de los Llanos de Luna, gave a diploma of honour to the group in May, sparking controversy and criticism from the Catalan government and the opposition. Despite calls for her to leave her post, she didn’t resign and was neither sacked by the Spanish government.

In a parliamentary response to a question by Catalan MEPs Ramon Tremosa (CiU), Salvador Sedó (CiU) and Raül Romeva (ICV); and by Basque and Galician MEPs Izaskun Bilbao (PNB) and Ana Miranda (BNG), Commissioner Reding said that “all EU Member States are obliged to penalise the intentional public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin”. From the 1st of December 2014, she added that the European Commission will be able to initiate “infringement proceedings” against those states that do not comply with this norm.

In fact, the European Commission is preparing a report about the level of compliance of member states with regards to the fight against hate speech and the trivialisation or denial of totalitarian crimes. The report is expected to be published by the end of this year.

In the recent months, Catalan members of the European Parliament reported in Brussels several trivialisations of the Nazi regime. They complained that the Madrid based television ‘TeleMadrid’ broadcasted a documentary in which Catalan President Artur Mas was compared to Hitler and Stalin, because, it said, “the three of them manipulate language in order to impose an ideology”. MEPs also denounced that El Mundo director Pedro J. Ramírez compared the FC Barcelona Stadium with its Catalan and pro-independence flags to the Stadium of the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany.

Up until now, Commissioner Reding had been avoiding a condemnation of these kinds of comments, but last May’s event, in which the honoured men were dressed up in the Fascist uniform of the Spanish Falange, was too much for her to remain silent, according to sources. Therefore, and speaking as a member of the European Commission, Viviane Reding said that “public authorities, political parties, and civil society must indeed strongly condemn and actively fight against racist and xenophobic behaviour.”. She added that Member State authorities have a “responsibility” to investigate cases of incitation of hate or denial of the Holocaust and should prosecute those responsible.

Reding’s answer to the Catalan MEPs came just after a new scandal in Spain relating to the issue. Young members of the People’s Party (PP) were seen in pictures showing fascist symbols and doing Nazi salutes. The trivialisation of the Nazis has also been seen amongst Socialist members, especially in order to criticise Catalan independence movement. Former Spanish Congress president José Bono once said Catalans persecute those who feel Spanish in Catalonia just as the Nazis did with Jews. Former Extremadura President, Juan Carlos Rodríguez Ibarra, compared Mas with Hitler and Mussolini."

Taken from: http://www.catalannewsagency.com/politics/item/don-t-trivialise-nazism-european-commission-warns-spain

Pedro Varela Case in Spain - European Human Rights Court rules against Spain in Holocaust human rights dispute 

Europe council website - 5 March, 2013. "Judges have today accepted that a Barcelona bookseller convicted of “justifying genocide” suffered a violation of his human rights. In today’s Chamber judgment in the case of Varela Geis v. Spain (application no. 61005/09), which is not final, the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 (a) and (b) (right to a fair trial and rights of the defence) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Pedro Varela Geis, a Barcelona bookshop-owner who sold publications about the Holocaust complained that he had been convicted on appeal of “disseminating ideas or doctrines justifying acts of genocide,” an offence not corresponding either to the charges against him or to his conviction at first instance.The court emphasised the need for anyone facing a criminal charge to be notified when the charge was amended. Persons accused of an offence were entitled to be informed not only of the material facts on which the accusation was based but also of any change in their legal classification, in order to be able to prepare their defence accordingly.

Just satisfaction (Article 41) The court held that Spain was to pay Varela Geis 8,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 5,000 in respect of costs and expenses."


Available at:http://www.humanrightseurope.org/2013/03/court-rules-against-spain-in-ho...

Spanish Court Overturns City's Ban on Burqas( Associated Press, Fox News)

MADRID, 28 February 2013-  â€œA Spanish court has overturned a city's ban on wearing face-covering Islamic veils in municipal buildings, saying it infringes religious liberties. In 2010, Lleida, in the northeastern region of Catalonia, became the first Spanish town to impose such a ban. It was temporarily suspended by a regional court following an appeal by a Muslim association but then later upheld. Spain's Supreme Court on Thursday accepted a second appeal and said the city was not entitled to order such a ban.It said that in line with Spanish and European rulings, such a prohibition must be based on a law, which does not exist in Spain at present. The Lleida ban was largely symbolic since only about 3 percent of its population is Muslim and very few wear such garments."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/02/28/spanish-court-overturns-city-ban-on-burqas/#ixzz2MTtTaKVu 

Spain to criminalize denial of Holocaust

24 January 2013- “More than half a Millennium after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the Spanish Minister of Justice has revealed that denying the Holocaust is to be made a criminal offence.Alberto Ruiz Gallardon announced the introduction of a draft bill, which will make it an illegal act to both apologise for, or to deny any crimes associated with genocide or the holocaust. The law will be approved by the centre-right Partido Popular later this year by the centre-right Government and brought into force during 2014.Earlier this month the central PP government called upon the PSOE regional government of Andalucia to authorise Jewish weddings in a number of the regions’ historical buildings, such as in Cordoba's historic Synagogue. [...].”

Note that this is further to the cancellation of the holocaust denial prohibition by the Spanish Constitutional Court in 2007, wherein it was deemed incompatible with the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Spanish Constitution. 

Taken from:http://www.tumbit.com/news/articles/6682-spain-to-criminalise-denial-of-holocaust.html