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Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 10:58 GMT
Anti-Semitic outburst shocks Canada

A former national Canadian aboriginal leader and holder of the country's highest civilian honour faces a police investigation and possible imprisonment after making anti-Semitic remarks to a newspaper.

Adolf Hitler
Hitler comments could mean a prison term
David Ahenakew said Hitler had been trying to clean up the world when he "fried six million Jews".

The remarks have provoked outrage in Canada - which prides itself on being a tolerant nation.

They are so offensive that the provincial government in Saskatchewan has asked the police to launch a formal investigation.

David Ahenakew - a former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the nation-wide Assembly of First Nations - made the comments to a newspaper reporter at the weekend.

Regret

On the reporter's audio tape, he is heard explaining that Hitler saved the world from being taken over by Jews.

Hitler... was going to make damn sure that the Jews didn't take over Germany or Europe

David Ahenakew

If he is found to have broken Canada's laws against inciting hatred, Mr Ahenakew could face a fine or time in prison.

The controversy has also left Canada's aboriginal leadership scrambling to distance itself from the views.

The current head of Canada's main aboriginal organisation, the Assembly of First Nations, says he regrets the remarks from the organisation's former leader, noting that Jewish organisations have often lent political support to aboriginal groups in Canada.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations regional - in group which Mr Ahenakew is still a leading figure - says it will ask him to resign.

There have also been calls for Mr Ahenakew to be stripped of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour, which he was awarded for decades of work towards aboriginal rights.

See also:

07 Mar 02 | Americas
30 Oct 01 | Americas
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20 Jun 00 | Americas
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