The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a pioneering institution in the fight against Nazism and in protecting the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, has sent a letter to the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, expressing their outrage after having knowledge of a circular from the Spanish public prosecutors that considers the Nazis as a group protected by the hate crime legislation. According to the La Marea journal and as the Wiesenthal Center publishes on their website, the letter was sent last Monday, the day that commemorates the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp by Soviet troops.
The prosecutors' circular stated that "an assault on a person of Nazi ideology or hate speech against this group can be included in this type of crimes." Here is the translation of the excerpt:
"The origin of hate crime is related to the protection of disadvantaged groups, but rather than the vulnerability of the group being an element that is required to be shown in the offence, the legislator, making this value judgement in advance, when including it in the penal offence, has assumed this intrinsic vulnerability or situation of vulnerability in the social environment. The ethical value which the victim of the offence may have is not required to be shown either. Thus, an aggression against a person of Nazi ideology, or the incitement of hate against this group, could be included in this type of crime."
This interpretation, however, contradicts the reason for hate crime legislation, which is to protect vulnerable groups, as considered by international organizations.
In this regard, the director of the Wiesenthal Centre, Shimon Samuels, asks president Sanchez in the letter if he also considers "hate speech against ISIS, ETA or those ideologies that support extermination of what they consider inferior races" to be a crime. In the letter, this interpretation is branded as "a sick joke, a slap to all survivors of the Holocaust, as well as the claim that the Nazis could never forgive the Jews for forcing them to build Auschwitz".
Samuels has urged the Spanish government "to take the appropriate measures [...] against those who disrespect the memory and banalize and trivialise Nazi atrocities".