EU bans racial incitement
NOT INCLUDED: The agreement among the body’s 27 members falls short of Germany’s ambition to make it illegal to deny that the Holocaust ever really occurred

Saturday, Apr 21, 2007, Page 6

The EU on Thursday made inciting racism and xenophobia crimes throughout its 27 member states in a landmark decision tempered by caveats to limit concerns over free speech.

The new deal specifies one to three-year prison terms be available for incitement to violence or hatred “against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, color, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.”

That could include sending “tracts, pictures or other material.”

The deal, reached by EU justice ministers in Luxembourg, display’s Europe’s “common moral values,” EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini told reporters.

It comes after almost six years of wrangling and falls short of Germany’s ambitions of specifically outlawing Holocaust denial.

The text also says that “member states may choose to punish only conduct which is either carried out in a manner likely to disturb public order or which is threatening, abusive or insulting.”

German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries nonetheless hailed the decision as “an important political signal” following failures in 2003 and 2005 to reach such a deal.

Germany had wanted to outlaw the denial of the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II before its six-month term at the helm of the EU ends in June.

Holocaust denial was made a crime in Germany in 1985 and the use of Nazi insignia is forbidden.