11 March 2010
Hungary’s President Laszlo Solyom has signed into law a bill that makes the denial of the Holocaust punishable by up to three years in jail. The bill was approved last month by the Hungarian National Assembly after more far-reaching versions were rejected by the Constitutional Court for limiting freedom of speech.
President Solyom signed the bill because in his opinion it was not unconstitutional, but lamented the timing of the bill ahead of next month’s parliamentary elections, according to his spokesman.
The Alliance of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz) said in a statement that the approval of the law could be an important weapon in the fight against anti-Semitism and that it created the opportunity for the authorities to take action against groups posing a threat to a peaceful society.
A leading member of the biggest opposition party, Fidesz, currently ahead in opinion polls and widely expected to form the next government, said it would draw up legislation after the general election that penalizes sympathy expressed for the Nazi- and Communist-era crimes on equal terms.
An estimated 550,000 Hungarian Jews and 50,000 Gypsies were killed in the last years of World War II.
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