UK ‘no’ to German Shoah law
BRITAIN HAS rejected plans by Germany to criminalise Holocaust denial and the display of Nazi symbols throughout the European Union as part of a series of anti-racist laws to be introduced during its EU presidency.
A Whitehall source told the JC that the UK government would “strongly oppose” the initiative announced by German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries. The official pointed out that denying the Holocaust and the display of Nazi symbols were not illegal in the UK and the government had “no plans to make them so”, and that ministers were against such a blanket ban.
“Of course, if a person denied the Holocaust or used Nazi symbols in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner that incited racial hatred, or was likely to do so, that would be unlawful,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Communities and Local Government.
There was also a cool response from Anglo-Jewry to the German plans, which will be controversial in a number of EU member states. A previous bid to introduce such a law in 2005 was rejected by several EU states including Britain.
Board of Deputies chief executive Jon Benjamin said that although legislation against Holocaust denial could be suitable in Germany, Austria and other countries that once were under direct control of the Nazis, “different considerations apply to the UK”. Using Holocaust denial to incite racial hatred should be prosecuted under existing legislation.
Labour peer Lord Janner, president of the Holocaust Education Trust, said he was pleased about the German proposals but “doubtful” if Britain needed such a law.
There were similar comments from Timothy Kirkhope, head of the Conservative MEPs, who said that, rather than an EU-wide ban, he would prefer individual nations enacting such law. Liberal Democrat MEP Baroness Ludford said she was against a legal ban on Holocaust denial. “The way to deal with the David Irvings of this world is to ridicule them and repeat the facts of the Holocaust,” she said.