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New York, Monday, January 24, 2005
Hate crimes not
a crime in Slovakia?
Slovakia's Jewish community is
protesting against a government plan to
decriminalize Holocaust denial.
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia
has filed a formal protest with the government
against a Justice Ministry plan on the issue. As in
many European countries, publicly denying the
existence of the Holocaust is a criminal act in
Slovakia. However, in a general overhaul of the
penal code, the Justice Ministry will submit a bill
to the Parliament in February that would eliminate
any sanction for promoting the view that Jews were
not systematically targeted for elimination under
Hitler. Justice Ministry spokesman Richard
Fides has told the Slovak press that the
current ban interferes with freedom of speech. But
Central Association of Jewish Community head
Frantisek Alexander disagreed.
'If you start letting people promote the idea of
Holocaust denial in a country where most people
don't even know what the Holocaust is, you are
asking for trouble. Holocaust denial is
infectious,' he told JTA. Gyula Bardos, a
legislator in the governing coalition, is
optimistic that the plan will be defeated.
'Deputies from all political parties know that
denying the Holocaust is a very dangerous matter,'
he told JTA.