Greece Bans Holocaust Denial

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A supporter of Greece's extreme right party Golden Dawn raises his hand in a Nazi-style salute during a rally in Athens on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014.Credit: AP

Greek lawmakers have passed a law that bans Holocaust denial and imposes stricter penalties for hate speech.

The government had been trying to pass the bill for more than a year as it sought ways to confront the rise of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and a surge in anti-immigrant violence.

For the first time, the bill criminalizes the denial or trivialization of the Holocaust or other recognized genocides.

The measure passed late Tuesday with 55 of the 99 lawmakers present in the 300-member Parliament voting in favor.

The law increases jail time for instigating racist violence from two years to three years and imposes fines on individuals and groups. Groups found inciting racism can be barred from receiving state funds.

The Greek Jewish community and international Jewish groups have long pressed the Greek government to take a tougher legislative stance.

Many of Golden Dawn’s leaders are currently awaiting trial on charges of running a criminal organization. The party, which has 18 seats in parliament, frequently uses Nazi imagery and its leaders have denied the existence of Nazi death camps and gas chambers.

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