Debate on the Holocaust during the trial of a neo-Nazi

Holocaust-debate during  of the trial of a neo-Nazi

The trial of neo-Nazi Gabriel Sohier Chaput, accused of having fomented hatred, was due to end today but will finally continue in a few weeks in order to continue the debate on the links between Nazism and the Holocaust, at the request of the judge.

Gabriel Sohier Chaput, also known by the pseudonym “Zeiger”, was one of the most prolific authors of The Daily Stormer site.

After four months of hiatus, the trial of neo-Nazi Gabriel Sohier Chaput, also known as Zeiger, has resumed at the Montreal courthouse.

The Crown prosecutor, Me Patrick Lafrenière, stated in his argument that Mr. Sohier Chaput, accused of having fomented hatred specifically against Jews, is the sole author of the article filed in evidence and that it should be considered this one in its published context.

Published January 2017 on The Daily Stormer, the most popular far-right portal in the world , this text dealt with anti-Semitic posters plastered in a bus shelter in British Columbia.

On the page of [the Daily Stormer] is Adolf Hitler, an image of a key with the swastika and a drawing of a smiling Nazi who s 'preparing to press a button for the gas, argued the prosecutor. This is not trivial: reference is made to the architect of the elimination of the Jews and the gas chambers.

He also underlined the intrinsically anti-Semitic character of the text. When we read in the article: " Nazism everywhere all the time, “there is an aspect of encouragement and incitement, he continues. Nazism, during World War II, is probably the greatest display of hatred towards Jews. It goes beyond offensive and hurtful remarks.

Gabriel Sohier Chaput appeared by videoconference. Hair pulled back, mask on his face, he seemed annoyed, sometimes rolling his eyes during the argument of the prosecutor, Me Lafrenière.

Gabriel Sohier Chaput participated in the white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017.

During his previous testimony, the defendant had asserted that the Nazis are a creation of Hollywood, of science fiction. It has no real basis, he argued. I have never met any. It is a dark fantasy.

According to Me Lafrenière, this assertion is not credible. It is impossible that a [eloquent], informed and intelligent guy like the accused did not think that his remarks, if they fell into the hands of racist people, would not increase the hatred of the Jews. He intentionally blinded himself for this purpose.

The prosecutor also tried to contradict Gabriel Sohier Chaput's assertion that it was a satirical text. The defendant's lawyer, Me Hélène Poussard, pleaded on March 4 that the presence of an image of the frog Pepe the Frog confirms the humorous nature of the publication.

Me Lafrenière pointed out that the frog in question had swastikas in its eyes on the Daily Stormer page and that it is one of the symbols borrowed by the extreme right. To a reasonable person, there is nothing in the format to suggest that these are jokes. It promotes Nazism.

Judge Manlio Del Negro nevertheless replied that the prosecutor had not filed any evidence that could show that it was well and truly there the interpretation that a reader would make of it. There is no doubt that the comments being made here are racist views, he said. But you know being racist is not a crime.

The judge also asked the prosecutor why he had not called on a historian to demonstrate the hateful nature of the Nazi regime. Is it up to me to go to a history book and peruse it? he asked.

Me Lafrenière argued that it is indisputable that the Jews suffered the persecutions of the Nazis. This is forensic knowledge. You don't need a teacher. They killed six million Jews and considered them inferior and responsible for the ills of Germany and Western society.

The defense attorney countered that her colleague was confusing the Holocaust with the Nazis. We play with words, replied Me Poussard. According to the dictionary, Nazism is National Socialism. It was an ideology. It was not part of the original plan to exterminate the Jews. And is it really six million victims? I think if people died in concentration camps it was to save money.

I advise you to stop: what you are saying is not reasonable, judge Del Negro intervened before asking that a debate on the question of judicial knowledge take place at the next session.

< p class="e-p">On the sidelines of the trial, a small demonstration of a dozen people took place in front of the courthouse to denounce Gabriel Sohier Chaput. The courts will not serve justice, so we want to make it clear that we will not tolerate fascism, said a protester who did not wish to be identified.

Even though Zeiger was one of most prolific authors of the Daily Stormer with hundreds of publications to his credit, only one article has been entered into evidence by the Crown.

From 2016 to 2017, the accused then wrote anonymously on the Daily Stormer site. He was unmasked in May 2018 thanks to the joint work of The Gazette and activists from anti-fascist Montreal. A warrant for his arrest was issued in November 2018 following a complaint filed by the Jewish organization B'nai Brith.

The maximum sentence for having fomented hatred against a specific group is to two years in prison.

With Erika Morris, CBC

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