Tuesday, April 17, 2007

EU ministers to criminalise Holocaust denial

The Financial Times website has a depressing story this evening - one that has been coming for some time:

Laws that make denying or trivialising the Holocaust a criminal offence punishable by jail sentences will be introduced across the European Union, according to a proposal expecting to win backing from ministers Thursday.

Offenders will face up to three years in jail under the proposed legislation, which will also apply to inciting violence against ethnic, religious or national groups.

Diplomats in Brussels voiced confidence on Tuesday that the controversial plan, which has been the subject of heated debate for six years, will be endorsed by member states

Why depressing?

Firstly, because I am a Liberal and believe that the truth emerges through free debate. I have written more about this in the past.

Secondly, because - as ever - those who put forward such bans purport to act from the highest motives, but in reality are just as pragmatic as the rest of us. The story says it will be an offence to deny the Rwandan genocide but not the Armenian genocide. Why? Because EU members do not want to upset Turkey.

But what the passing of this proposal will really show is the EU has lost its way. The great insight of the Manchester school of Liberalism in the 19th century was that trade enabled people from very different cultures to work together harmoniously and thus increased understanding between them.

The European project nowadays seems to believe that unless countries have precisely the same values and enshrine those values in laws like this one, then they cannot trade at all. That is clearly nonsense.

And why does it matter if Malta and Luxembourg have different laws on Holocaust denial? Who is harmed by this?

1 comment:

Stonch said...

Efforts to suppress information about the Armenian genocide do not come only from Turkey and those who do not wish to upset her. Not good at all. Likewise, there have been efforts from some quarters to play down the targeting of the Roma people for extermination by the Nazis (something I believe Simon Weisenthal made efforts to redress, leading to a split with Elie Wiesel, if I remember correctly).