A Brussels criminal court sentenced two employees of the Belgian Islamic Centre to 10 months jail on Wednesday. They were convicted for inciting race hatred against Jews by spreading revisionist and xenophobic texts via the centre's website.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers said the sentence was “memorable”.
Abdel Rahman Ayachi, 26, and Raphaël Gendron, 30, run the centre's website. When leaving the courtroom, they said the “Jewish lobby” had “inspired” the complaint.
Besides the jail terms, they were each ordered to pay a fine of 15,000 euros and deposit 2,500 euros into the account of the “Centre for Equal Opportunities and Fight Against to Racism”.
The anti-racism office, which is a Belgian public authority, lodged a complaint against the Islamic centre.
The monetary sentence is designed to compensate the Jewish community for the damage and insulting remarks made by the lawyer for the defence, Sebastien Courtoy, who declared that the Belgian law against revisionism was “fascist and totalitarian”.
Some 20 other people — members of the “Dialogue and Sharing”, a group that aims to promote at Jewish-Arab coexistence – had also lodged a complaint. They will each receive a symbolic compensation of 1 euro.
The courtroom was full when the sentence was read by the president.
The two defendants were convicted for denying the Holocaust, minimalising the extent of Nazi crimes and inciting race hatred, especially against Jews, via a video report and prosecutable statements.
The Islamic centre’s “assabyle.com” website had put a link to another site showing a video made by Lebanese students who associated Adolf Hitler with former Israeli foreign minister David Levy.
“To put a weblink on the website is considered as appropriation,” Francois Sant’Angelo, a legal expert for the anti-racism centre, stressed.
The president of the court, Francoise de Lamine de Bex, said in the judgement: “The fact that the video was removed from the site didn’t delete the infringement.
“Confusing Jews and Hitler is considered as incitement to hatred. Freedom of expression is not absolute in our democracy,” she said.
The court also ruled that the two convicted were responsible for the content of messages posted on the site.Source: EJP (English)