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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.


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