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High court upholds ‘hate speech’ conviction

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Photo: West McGowan
10:39 CET+01:00
Switzerland’s highest court on Monday upheld the conviction of a former Swiss People’s Party (SVP) politician of racial discrimination for a tweet he sent suggesting a ‘kristallnacht’ against Muslims, reported news agency ATS.

Tweeting in June 2012, Alexander Müller, then a member of the Zurich branch of the conservative SVP, said perhaps we need a new ‘kristallnacht’, “this time for mosques”, referring to the night of November 9th 1938 when Nazi forces destroyed hundreds of synagogues and Jewish businesses in Germany.

In an interview with Tages Anzeiger some months later Müller said his tweet should have been read in the context of a series of tweets expressing his anger towards extreme Muslims who advocate violence towards wives who refuse to have sex.

In its judgement passed on Monday, the federal court said that the politician’s tweeted words qualified as “hate speech” and so are not protected by freedom of expression, said ATS.

Such words “disparaged people and groups of people due to their ethnicity or religion” and “justified crimes committed against humanity”, according to the court.

The tweet received immediate criticism online at the time and was deleted some minutes later.

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Müller later apologized but was forced to leave the SVP.

The case reached the federal high court after the ex-politician appealed against his conviction in the Zurich courts, where he was fined and ordered to pay court costs.

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