Law Squirrel

Jewish Leaders Call for EU Ban on Anti-Semitism

Star of DavidA number of Jewish leaders across Europe are calling for legislation to be introduced on an EU-wide basis to combat anti-Semitism, along with other forms of racial, religious and gender discrimination. This initiative has the backing of a number of former heads of state and governmental figures from various EU nations.

The proposal containing laws designed for this purpose have been put together over a three year period by a panel of four international constitutional law experts, with the backing of the European Council in Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR). If, as lobbyists hope, the proposal becomes law throughout the EU’s 28 nations it will help to combat anti-Semitism as well as outlawing a number of other activities held to be discriminatory.

The proposal would outlaw holocaust denial and similar acts of denying actual or attempted genocide. It would also create laws against xenophobia, and introduce a new crime called “group libel.” This latter crime would cover public defamation of particular groups, defined by their religious beliefs or ethnic or cultural heritage. For example, it would outlaw certain claims made by anti-Semitic groups of Jews conspiring against other peoples, just as such claims made falsely against an individual would be classed as defamation.

The proposal also includes draft legislation intended to safeguard the rights of other religious and ethnic groups as well as individuals and LGBT people. Among the activities that would be prohibited by the law are female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and polygamy.

The document also suggests introducing some modest limits on freedom of expression in situations when doing so is in the interest of security or helps to promote tolerance. According to the document, “Tolerance is a two-way street. Members of a group who wish to benefit from tolerance must show it to society at large, as well as to members of other groups and to dissidents or other members of their own group.”

The document goes on to state that “There is no need to be tolerant to the intolerant” and that “freedom must not be abused to defame other groups.”

According to those who drafted the proposals, the suggested legislation is designed to tackle the difficulties that national governments are currently struggling with in trying to balance liberties, individual and group rights, and issues of security.

The call for standard legislation to be adopted throughout the EU is to be formally initiated this week at events in Prague which commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of prison camp Auschwitz as well as remembering the holocaust in general.


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