The Greek parliament has just passed a legislation outlawing Holocaust denial and expanding prosecution powers against the incitement of racial violence (read here). This follows a number of violent attacks against immigrants and the rise of the extreme-right Holocaust-denying political party Golden Dawn in Greece.
OHPI has been campaigning with Facebook to include Holocaust denial as hate speech on its platform. Earlier this year, we published a detailed briefing on the Facebook Page “Proud to be a Holocaust Denier” asking for people to report it. Following our report, the page was removed and is no longer visible in Australia. However, while the social media platform removed the page, the default policy of Facebook is that they “recognize people’s right to be factually wrong about historical events” and that this was different to “direct statements of hate and clear threats of violence against specific people or groups of people”.
However, the most widely-accepted definition of antisemitism is the one put forward by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (now called the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union). This definition includes “Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust)”.
This definition has been its adopted by the US Government for the State Department Report on antisemitism, by the British Police as part of their Hate Crimes Operations Guide, and by The London Declaration of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, which has been signed by members of Parliament from around the world, including Australia.
By outlawing Holocaust denial, the Greek government is going a step further. It is drawing a link between a hateful ideology and racial violence. Violence doesn’t spring out of nowhere. It is such ideologies which deny the humanity of another that breed and direct racial violence. We urge Facebook to take note.
OHPI has also reported in the past how social media has been used by Golden Dawn to reach out to extreme-right groups in Australia. In May, we published a briefing on how Golden Dawn and the extreme-right Australia First party connected on Facebook, and were using the social media platform to spread their racist ideology in Australia. In fact, they used Facebook to organize a rally in Brisbane in support of Golden Dawn. Our briefing led to the Facebook page “Australians for the Golden Dawn Party” being removed.
However, that didn’t spell the end of Golden Dawn’s attempts to promote itself in Australia, which is home to a sizeable Greek diaspora. Last month, it announced that two of its members will be visiting Australia to “raise awareness and seek funds”. The proposed visit has been denounced by leaders of both the Greek and other ethnic communities.
OHPI will be monitoring if the Party uses social media again to reach out to people. We hope you will support us in our efforts to keep Golden Dawn’s hateful doctrines off the social media.