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Don’t trivialise Nazism – European Commission warns Spain

The European Commission has stated that the “the intentional public condoning, denial or gross trivialisation of the Nazi crimes is to be made criminally punishable”. Answering a complaint by Catalan MEPs about the honours received by a brotherhood of soldiers and supporters of the ‘División Azul’, a division of Spanish volunteers that fought in the Nazi army, Brussels warns that next year it will be able to fine member states that do no prosecute “incitement to violence and hate”.

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02 September 2013 06:31 PM

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ACN

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”.


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.

 

 

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  • The Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Viviane Reding (by ACN)

  • The Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Viviane Reding (by ACN)