‘Swiss court too neutral on far right groups’
Nazism is not just staying in people’s minds, it is coming out onto our streets and trying to take over our parliaments, and this is a warning to us, Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of the United Against Fascism group, told RT.
Lausanne’s Federal Tribunal decided on Wednesday that “A Hitler salute in public is not always punishable.” Essentially, “unless one is proven to be spreading racist ideology, they’re free to express a personal sentiment or belief with the gesture,” according to the court decision. This finding by a Swiss court is a green light for people to continue to use the Nazi salute, and we should condemn it, Weyman Bennett believes.
RT: What is your take on the Swiss court's decision?
Weyman Bennett: I think this is disgraceful. We have a problem in Europe at the moment, particularly in the parts of Western Europe where we have seen a relaunch of Nazi and fascist groups. I believe they have to be opposed, because the last time they were effectively been able to get into any form of government they were involved in the mass murder of millions of people who opposed them. And this finding by the Swiss court is actually a green light for people to continue to use a Nazi salute, and I think we absolutely should condemn it.
RT: The court ruled the Nazi salute is not a crime if someone is making a personal statement, but it is criminal if it is used to spread ideology. Is there not quite a fine line between the two?
WB: I think when Breivik was in court, the man who was found guilty of trying to blow up a parliament and murder children, he gave a very similar salute. We have to accept that when these people are organizing this is a message to their own supporters and to others that they support those levels of politics. It is not a personal position. When Hitler gave that salute, and Mussolini gave that salute it was about pushing an ideology that ultimately led to the deaths of millions of Jews and to thousands of other people who opposed fascism, and many people were killed in a conflict in which they had to oppose fascism and Nazism. The very minimum people should do is, when these groups start to organize, is that they stop them when they are small. The Swiss court has made a mistake, it is too neutral on fascist ideology. We need to be very clear, when you start to see groups like Le Pen there is a danger in these European elections that groups like Jobbik, etc, may well come on top. These ideologies are not just staying as people's personal opinions, they are coming out onto our streets, and they are also trying to take over our parliaments. This is a warning to us, and we should stand firm, even against those people that put those messages out.
RT: Why do you think we are seeing this rising of ultra-nationalist groups across the EU?
WB: The truth is that since the crisis of 2008 it is always possible to come up with scapegoats. To be honest, Jobbik launched its campaign in an old synagogue, and that was a message to the people. In this country they have the British Defense League attacking Muslims, attempting to build political street armies in order to push an ideology that says that you blame people. I believe it starts with blaming people and ends up with murdering them. It is a response to the banking crisis, the imposition of austerity. It is one of the problems, we saw it in the 1930s, and sadly it is repeating itself, although in very slow motion. If people make Nazi salutes, or say they imitate Nazi salutes, we should be very clear that we reject that because we do not want to see the Holocaust again.
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