Judge Orders Dutch Politician to Remove Social Media Posts Comparing COVID-19 With Holocaust After Jewish Group Lawsuit
The leader of a right-wing populist party in The Netherlands was ordered on Wednesday by a Dutch court to remove posts on social media in which he compared the Dutch government’s measures to counter the COVID-19 pandemic with the mass slaughter of Jews during the Nazi Holocaust.
Thierry Baudet — a member of the Dutch parliament and the leader of the right-wing nationalist Forum for Democracy (FvD) — was told by a judge in Amsterdam to delete four posts on Twitter within 48 hours. Should Baudet refuse to comply, he will be fined 25,000 euros per day until the posts are removed. The judge also ordered Baudet to refrain from using Holocaust-related imagery in his vocal campaign against vaccinations and other public health measures to roll back the pandemic’s spread.
Baudet’s tweets, posted last month, openly compared those who freely refuse the COVID-19 vaccine with Jews suffering under the Nazi German regime’s racial laws. “The current situation can be compared to the 1930s and 1940s,” he wrote on Nov. 14. “The unvaccinated are the new Jews, the ignorant who exclude them are the new Nazis and NSB [wartime Dutch Nazi organization] members.”
Ending the tweet with a defiant flourish, Baudet declared: “There, I said it.”
In another tweet, Baudet posted photographs of an unvaccinated Dutch girl drying herself outside following a swimming lesson and an unvaccinated Dutch boy who was not permitted to enter a Christmas party. Accompanying these images was the photo of a wartime Jewish boy wearing a Nazi-imposed “Judenstern” (“Jews’ Star”) on his clothing, his hand clutching a wire fence as he gazed at those on the other side.
“Ask yourself: is this really the country you want to live in? In which children who are ‘unvaccinated’ are not allowed to go and see Santa Claus? And need to be dried off outside after swimming lessons?” Baudet commented alongside. “If not: THEN RESIST! Do not participate in this apartheid, this exclusion!”
The case against Baudet was brought by two Dutch Jewish organizations — the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI) and the umbrella Central Jewish Consultation (CJO) — who charged that the MP’s tweets were “seriously insulting and unnecessarily hurtful to the murdered victims of the Holocaust, survivors and relatives.” The joint court action was backed by four Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.
The judge’s ruling on Wednesday upheld the complaint against Baudet. “You have spoken in an unnecessarily offensive way to victims of the Holocaust and their relatives,” the judge ruled. “The right to freedom of expression for a representative of the people is not unlimited.”
In response, the FvD tweeted that Baudet would appeal. “Freedom of expression is restricted by the judge,” the party declared, deeming the ruling to be a “totally hallucinatory statement.”
Jacqueline Schaap, a lawyer for CIDI, said in advance of Wednesday’s hearing that Baudet had willfully elided the distinction between refusing a vaccine by choice and being persecuted because of one’s racial, ethnic or religious origins.
“Being murdered in a concentration camp like Buchenwald cannot be compared with the [COVID-19] measures of today,” she told the Dutch news agency ANP. “Millions of people were murdered in the Holocaust, simply because they were Jewish. But being Jewish is not a choice.”
Referring to the photographs posted by Baudet, Schaap asserted: “Not being allowed to see a Santa Claus parade cannot be compared to the ghettoes and [to] being gassed.”