Rule Through Law: Nationalist Politicians Are Being Imprisoned for Their Beliefs Across Europe
Multiple European Union states are breaking with post-war liberal conventions and openly imprisoning prominent political opponents and intellectuals for ideological crimes.
The tactic being used by these governments is “rule through law,” as opposed to rule of law. The strategy is commonly deployed in nations like Saudi Arabia against journalists, intellectuals and opposition figures who are targeted for repression first, then selectively prosecuted using often vaguely defined existing laws after.
Earlier today (ER: October 14) a judge in Athens condemned almost all of Golden Dawn’s elected officials, including sitting European parliament member Ioannis Lagos, to years in prison.
Nikos Michaloliakos (pictured above), Golden Dawn’s General Secretary, was given 13 years for a RICO-style charge that alleged his patriotic Greek party, which until recently was the third most popular in the country, is a criminal organization.
Michaloliakos was not tied to any specific crime, but prosecutors used editions of his group’s magazine featuring articles about Germany during World War II from the 1980s and 90s to argue that their political ideas were a form of violence in and of themselves.
In a public statement published to the Golden Dawn website Michaloliakos blamed the court’s ruling on Golden Dawn’s sudden electoral rise in 2013, stating “They say we are a criminal Nazi organization. [If that’s true] why did they wait 30 years to charge us?”
He accurately pointed out that Golden Dawn was never accused of being a criminal organization since its founding in the 1980s. It was only after May 2012, when the party achieved 7% of the vote, that the Greek state decided it was time to arrest them in 2013.
Yesterday another nationalist elected official, Marian Kotleba, was sentenced to four years in prison by the Slovak government for handing out checks for 1,488 Euros to poor families in 2017. State prosecutors accused Kotleba, who leads the politically ascendant People’s Party – Our Slovakia, of using 1488 as a secret code for “white power.”
Kotleba’s party holds 17 seats out of 150 in parliament and has been steadily growing. Its existence has put pressure on conservatives to begin speaking to nationalist issues and against corruption, a factor that has upset the nation’s rulers and contributed to last year’s failed attempt to get the People’s Party outlawed. Kotleba plans to appeal the decision.
If the Supreme Court upholds Kotleba’s conviction, he will be permanently banned from running for office and will be the first Slovak parliament member to be imprisoned since the fall of communism.
In France, patriotic intellectual and Yellow Vest activist Hervé Ryssen is now a month into his year and a half jail sentence for “anti-Semitism” that focused on pointing out the scientific impossibilities of the Holocaust narrative.
Ryssen has for years been dragged through the court system by lawyers affiliated with France’s Jewish organizations, such as LICRA. A letter signed by a diverse contingent of French public figures belonging to the nationalist, artistic and Muslim communities expressed outrage at Ryssen becoming a prisoner of conscience.
Veteran Front National leaders Jean Marie Le Pen and Bruno Gollnisch both condemned Ryssen’s incarceration, stating that it revealed that France was becoming a dictatorship where people are viciously punished for crimes of opinion.
Both Gollnisch and Le Pen were expelled from the party by Marine Le Pen, who has now renamed the party National Rally and taken it down a route of social liberalism and Zionism.
Marine Le Pen’s boyfriend and National Rally vice president, Jewish politician Louis Aliot, took to Twitter to attack Ryssen’s defenders, claiming that freedom of speech and “provocation” (hate speech) are not the same. The sentiment was endorsed by Le Pen, who hypocritically defends critics of Islam on free speech grounds.
The leadership of the Spanish nationalist movement — Pedro Chaparro (National Democracy), Manuel Andrino (Spanish Falange), and Pedro Pablo Peña (National Alliance) — are exhausting their final appeal of a prison sentence handed down to them over counter-protesting left-wing Catalan separatists in 2013.
Prosecutors allege that the three leaders were responsible for a confrontation that occurred between members of Madrid’s “antifa” and Spanish patriots.
Last year, Chaparro, Andrino, Peña and others began mending fractures in the large but deeply sectarian Spanish nationalist movement, putting aside differences to found the electoral bloc “ADN: Spanish Identity.”
Catalan language media is eager to see the men behind bars. If their last appeal fails, they will serve years in prison.
“Sending a Message”
The myriad of “human rights” NGOs that complain when Eastern European countries try to block George Soros from influencing their elections are all lauding this Europe-wide crackdown.
A statement published on the conviction of Golden Dawn’s parliamentary bloc by Amnesty International’s European Director, Nils Muižnieks, hailed the decision as a victory against anti-immigration sentiment: “This verdict sends a clear message to political groups with aggressive anti-migrant and anti-human rights agendas in Greece and across Europe that violent and racist criminal activity – whether perpetrated by individuals on the street or members of parliament, will not go unpunished.”
On Kotleba’s conviction, multiple liberal NGOs backed by international finance declared the imprisonment of political opponents a triumph for democracy, “We are glad that extremism in Slovakia is finally being punished and addressed with the appropriate attention” the groups commented.
Various Jewish organizations have also celebrated the embrace of hard power by nervous liberal elites currently enduring a worldwide crisis in them and their failing institutions.
While many European nations have hate speech laws, this is the first time in recent memory that liberal democracies have mustered the nerve to begin sentencing elected officials to long prison sentences for their ideas.
These acts are highly discrediting to the neo-liberal project and will likely have unforeseen consequences in the future.
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