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First conviction for posting racist and anti-Semitic memes

A judge in Turnhout (Antwerp Province) has sentenced a woman following a conviction on charges of posting racist and anti-Semitic videos and memes on social media. Unia, the equal opportunities centre, says the conviction is an important precedent.

From March 2019 till January 2020 the woman posted several racist and anti-Semitic videos and memes on her social media profiles.  Memes are manipulated videos, photos or phrases that a lot of people send to each other on the internet and which are supposed to be funny. The posts put the woman on the watchlist of OCAD, the body that analyses the terrorist threat in Belgium.

In one post the woman had a laugh with the terrorist outrage in Christchurch (New Zealand).  She also posted unsuitable comments following a fire at a Flemish asylum centre.  Several Nazi-symbols appeared on her social media profiles.

Unia came forward as an injured party in the legal proceedings.  The centre says it’s the first time somebody has been convicted in Belgium for hate-spreading memes, though there have been earlier convictions relating to hateful posts online. 

Unia says that it has noticed a shift from offline to online activism in far-right circles.  “Online activism poses an equal threat to public order and social cohesion. Research has shown that virtual activism on social media encourages violent acts.  The conviction is a strong message and extremely important precedent that fills a vacuum in jurisprudence” says Unia director Keytsman.

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