Burning the Right to Question History: The Criminalization of Holocaust Denial

Many in France and elsewhere have reacted to the vicious murder of the Charlie Hebdo journalists by expressing their unwavering support for the right to freedom of speech. They argue that although derogatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad offend 1.6 billion Muslims, an offensive act of this unique scale must still be protected by the right to freedom of expression of the offenders. The holiness of this right, sadly, is not as absolute as those enthusiasts suggest. Over two years ago, I wrote an article about the fact that the holocaust is the only historical event the denying of which is illegal — and that is in as many as 17 countries. I am not a holocaust denier, but I am completely against criminalizing questioning the historicity of any event. The real farce is that France is one of the countries in which a person exercising their right to freedom of speech to deny the holocaust would land them in prison. The purpose of the law? You guessed it, fighting anti-Semitism. If this farcical hypocrisy is not enough, the French constitutional authority ruled that this law cannot be extended to the denial of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. The reason it does not apply? You guessed it, it would violate the right to freedom of speech! And let’s not forget that in 2009 Charlie Hebdo sacked one of its cartoonists over an alleged anti-Semitic cartoon. But then Charlie Hebdo used to be called Hara-Kiri Hebdo before it was banned in 1970 for a headline that downplayed the gravity of the death of Charles de Gaulle. And this is how the universal right to freedom of hypocrisy works... Read the rest