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Friday, February 27, 1998 Published at 17:33 GMT

World: Europe

Writer fined for Holocaust writings
image: [ Opponents and supporters of Garaudy clashed outside the court ]
Opponents and supporters of Garaudy clashed outside the court

The French author, Roger Garaudy, has been fined $20,000 for questioning the Nazi Holocaust during the Second World War.

A French court, which was cordoned off by police because of the presence of Jewish protestors, convicted him of challenging crimes against humanity and of racial libel.

But it cleared him of provoking racial hatred, discrimination or violence.

Under French law, it is illegal to question crimes against humanity.

Mr Garaudy was not in court for the verdict.

Shortly after the ruling was announced, a group of Jewish activists in the courtroom clashed with some Arab journalists and shouted: "Garaudy Nazi, Garaudy to Jail."

Questioned Holocaust

In his book The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics, Mr Garaudy argued that Hitler's killing of the Jews could not be described as genocide.

He also questioned whether gas chambers were used for mass slaughter.

In an appearance at his hearing last month, Mr Garaudy said his book in no way condoned Nazi methods.

He said it was an attack instead on Israeli government policy, which he said used the Holocaust as a "justifying dogma" for its actions.

"I challenge anyone to find the word 'Jew' used pejoratively anywhere in my book," Mr Garaudy told the court.

However, the prosecution described his writings as a new form of anti-Semitism and racism.

The 84-year-old writer, a former Communist who has converted to Islam, won wide support across the Muslim world in his confrontation with French law over the book.

His book was prominently displayed at Cairo's International Book Fair this month.


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