NEW YORK – The American Jewish Committee issued a statement welcoming the adoption by the Greek Parliament of a new law to combat and penalize acts of racism and Holocaust denial.
The bill, an initiative of Prime Minister Samaras to update a 1979 law, was under debate for more than a year. It passed by a vote of 55-44. It toughens sanctions for incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence and criminalize denial of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
“This legislation is an important step for strengthening Greek society, as the nation confronts extremists who promote hate and untruths, which can be accompanied by intimidation and the threat of violence,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris.
The law increases prison sentences to three years, and fines of $26,000, for “inciting acts of discrimination, hatred or violence” over race, religion or disability. Those denying or praising the Holocaust, genocide and war crimes against humanity will face similar punishment.
AJC and its partner organization, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS), have long supported the adoption of anti-racism legislation. Prime Minister Samaras, addressing AJC in New York a year ago this month, spoke passionately about the need to use enhanced legal tools to combat the scourge of racism in his country.