Harsh Criticism of Flemish “Denialist Agitator” Concealing Hatred with Humor and Memes

Far-Right Politician Dries Van Langenhove Sentenced to Prison for Racism and Denialism: A Significant Milestone in the Fight Against Hate Speech

In 2019, a Ghent court sentenced Flemish politician Dries Van Langenhove to one year in prison and a fine of 16,000 euros for violating laws on racism and denialism. Additionally, he received a suspended sentence for violating the Weapons Law and his political rights were annulled for 10 years. This was a significant sentence as punishments for apologizing for Nazism are typically minor.

Van Langenhove, often referred to as an “agitator”, is known for his far-right sympathies and his association with Vlaams Belang, the far-right party leading the polls. He founded a group called Schild & Vrienden, which promoted far-right ideologies and had connections to businesses selling items like knives and pepper sprays. The court found that he attracted others to his racist speech and created a hostile atmosphere in society.

Six other members of the group, including party workers and a member of the Eurochamber, were also convicted. Vlaams Belang has defended its militants and criticized the ruling, calling the Belgian justice system “rotten”. The case began with a television report in 2018 exposing the racist and denialist comments exchanged within the group. The court based its decision on laws related to denial of the Nazi genocide and discrimination inspired by racism and xenophobia.

The judges concluded that the group was guilty of inciting hatred and applying discriminatory policies. Members of the group targeted individuals based on their race and religion, leading to harassment and abuse. This case highlights the use of humor and private forums to spread hate and discrimination. It is a reminder of the ongoing threat posed by individuals who hide their extremist ideologies behind jokes and memes

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