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German Faces Five Years in Prison For Holocaust Denial


The trial of a 72-year-old former left-wing terrorist group founder, and current neo-Nazi, began today in Germany. Horst Mahler is accused of posting documents online denying the Holocaust. Mahler likes trouble, as he received an 11-month sentence last year for delivering the Nazi salute at his prison booking for a previous conviction. And in 2003, he had to pay thousands of euros in fines for saying the Sept. 11 attacks were justified.

Mahler could spend five years in prison, if convicted of Holocaust denial. German law specifically prohibits anyone from claiming that the genocide of the Jews did not occur. A total of 13 countries forbid denial, including: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Switzerland.

Outlawing neo-Nazism is an obvious choice, but what about criminalizing Holocaust denial— is that a reasonable limit on speech, crucial to making sure the atrocities are never forgotten and never happen again? Should the prohibition include the Internet?

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