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Is anti-Semitism a crime?

Today is January 27, Remembrance Day in much of the world, to commemorate the victims killed during the Holocaust and reflect on humanity's darkest moment.
It is important to know the history, to question the ways that allowed this enormous genocide to occur.
It serves to remind us, in the words of Primo Levi, that “it did not begin with the gas chambers”, but with the insinuation of discrimination, hatred and fear.
It is essential, especially today but also for the rest of the year, to address the issue also from a legal point of view.
Yes, because the law has played an instrumental role in normalizing discrimination, associating atrocious and inhuman feelings with something that should mean justice, rights and fairness.
Of course, the racial laws of 1938 were approved under Mussolini's totalitarian regime, but this does not alter the fact that the way had long been paved to welcome the consensus of the people and then to allow the establishment of a dictatorship.
We cannot analyze what led to the Holocaust in a brief way, not even wanting to focus attention on the use of the law, but it is right and proper to ask ourselves where we are now.
What does Italian law say about anti-Semitism, hate crimes and racial discrimination? Are they punished effectively? But above all: are we effectively protected from the repetition of history, as we like to remember? Is anti-Semitism a crime? Anti-Semitism is literally hatred of Jews as such, which manifested itself in all its ferocity in the Shoah, but certainly has not lacked atrocities since ancient times.
We know that not only did Jews suffer during the Holocaust, as various discriminations were implemented, but they represent the vast majority of victims.
It is precisely anti-Semitism, its spread among the people, that has made it possible to normalize the separation from the rest of the citizens, up to and including deportation.
It is therefore inevitable to ask whether there is a specific crime in this regard.
There isn't, but we can reasonably think that it isn't necessary.
Certainly not because we have now overcome this type of thinking, but because it is primarily the Constitution that prohibits any type of discrimination.
Article 3 establishes the principle of equality of human beings: All citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before the law, without distinction of sex, race, language, religion, political opinions, personal and social conditions .
It is this article that prohibits anti-Semitism and any form of discrimination based on culture, religion, ethnicity or other reasons of hatred.
read also Why January 27 is Remembrance Day How is anti-Semitism punished? There is no real crime, but there is a more generic crime which concerns "propaganda and incitement to crime for reasons of racial, ethnic and religious discrimination".
Article 604 bis of the Criminal Code punishes with imprisonment up to 1 year and 6 months or a fine of up to 6,000 whoever propagates ideas based on superiority, racial and ethnic hatred and whoever incites to commit discrimination for these reasons.
The penalty, however, is imprisonment from 6 months to 4 years for those who instigate violence (or commit it personally) for the same reasons.
We often talk about the ban on the reconstitution of the fascist party, but this article also prevents other hypotheses, prohibiting any association based on discrimination or violence for racial, ethnic or religious reasons, under penalty of imprisonment from 6 months to 4 years for mere participation and imprisonment from 1 to 6 years for the promotion or direction of these associations.
Finally, if the propaganda creates a concrete risk of diffusion and denies, minimizes or makes an apology for the Shoah (or crimes of genocide, against humanity, or war), the penalty is imprisonment from 2 to 6 years.
Of course, they are not among the highest penalties provided for by our system, but they remain significant considering that they "only" punish incitement and propaganda.
Any other crimes committed for these reasons are punished with specific discipline, possibly aggravated for the base reasons.
read also Apology of fascism, when it is a crime and what risks those who praise Mussolini Does the law protect us? Every law, which in any case must go through a specific approval process, must comply with the Constitution, as does every sentence.
Amendments to the Constitution must go through even more complex processes which we will not focus on here, since it is in any case prohibited to modify its essential principles.
Freedom and equality are among them, so no law can limit them.
The Constituent Assembly clearly did a painstaking job, guaranteeing the future that legalizing hatred would be, if not impossible, at least very complex.
What happened with the Holocaust cannot be repeated, except with double time and invasive propaganda.
It is therefore always important to dedicate reflection to this topic, thinking consciously before finding an answer in hatred and discrimination, regardless of the subjects to whom they are addressed.
The Italian legal system today is sufficiently calibrated to defend the population from events of this type and also relies on international collaboration, but it is essential that every citizen acts as a spokesperson and defends its legality.
read also Remembrance Day 27 January, phrases and quotes about the Holocaust

Author: A.W.M.

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