Jews protest plans to alter penal code

Posted: Friday, January 28, 2005

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia's Jewish community is protesting a proposal to remove a law punishing Holocaust denial from the country's penal code.

The law was included in the penal code in 2001, but the Justice Ministry has proposed that it be removed as part of the code's comprehensive amendment, arguing it limits free speech.

The plan, which must be approved by parliament, has stirred criticism throughout Slovakia.

The Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities said last Friday that it was ''publicly expressing deep concern'' over the proposal.

''An institution which should initiate the fight against the growing influence of fascist ideologies looks for reasons to rescind anti-fascist legislation, arguing with pseudo-human phrases about freedom of expression,'' the group said.

Adding that the ministry's arguments are ''misleading.''

The group appealed to Slovakia's lawmakers ''not to help legalize neo-Nazi activities'' and urged them to oppose the proposal when it comes up for a vote, which is expected next month.

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