Germany Moves to Silence Holocaust Deniers Across Europe

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To its long list of ambitious goals as EU president, Germany recently added a controversial one that is set to spark debate across Europe about whether governments can uphold freedom of expression on one hand and outlaw certain viewpoints at the same time.

German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said she would like to see Holocaust denial -- already a crime in some European countries -- become punishable by up to three years in prison in all 27 of the bloc's member states.

"We have always said that it should not still be acceptable in Europe to say the Holocaust never existed and that six million Jews were never killed," Zypries said recently. "I am optimistic that over the next six months we will manage to get a result," she said.

Germany's timing could not be better given the recent formation in the European Parliament of Identity, Sovereignty and Tradition, a far-right group headed by Mussolini's grand-daughter Alessandra and French National Front leader Jean-Marie le Pen.

The group's founder, French politician Bruno Gollnisch, was found guilty this week of questioning the Holocaust by a French court. In its ruling the court said Gollnisch had called into question the number of Jews killed during World War Two and whether gas chambers had been used to kill them.

The European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs, Franco Frattini, pledged immediate support for the German proposal.

"While preserving freedom of expression, we have to criminalize concrete incitement," he said.

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