The seating of a German neo-Nazi on a key European Parliament committee has drawn an outraged reaction from European Jewry and a pledge from the parliament’s president to oppose him, EurActiv.com reports.
Udo Voigt, 55, who took his seat on the parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on Monday, is the former leader of the National Democratic Party of Germany, which is classified by German intelligence as a far-right extremist party. An attempt to have it banned on the grounds that its ideology is identical to that of Hitler is currently before the German courts.
Voigt is on record as having praised Hitler and was convicted in 2009 for glorifying the Waffen SS. The son of a former Wehrmacht officer who famously tried to nominate Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess as a Nobel Peace Prize candidate, Voigt once claimed that “no more than 340,000 Jews” had died in the Holocaust.
Unaffiliated European Parliament members like Voigt are allocated a set number of committee seats to be divided among all independent politicians.
The parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee is responsible for the protection of citizens’ rights, human rights, and measures to combat discrimination.
“Everyone who denies the Holocaust and who is against human dignity, democracy and plurality will encounter the strongest resistance from me,” said Martin Schulz, the socialist-democratic president of the parliament, in response to Voigt’s committee membership.
“The European Parliament is the place where the representatives of the European people work hard to ensure a good and peaceful future for us on our continent. There is no place for racists and anti-Semites in this house.”
A spokesman for the European Jewish Congress said, “It does the European Parliament no credit to have people sitting on its civil liberties committee who have obviously not only shown no commitment to civil liberties, but have sought to undermine them and to purvey a racist and intolerant agenda throughout their political career.
“We call upon members of the civil liberties committee, and indeed all parliamentary groups within the European Parliament, to ensure that Mr Voigt does not get the publicity for his repugnant views that he so clearly seeks at every opportunity.”
Michael Privot, director of the European Network Against Racism, told EurActiv,
“We are deeply concerned that an MEP from the German neo-Nazi party NPD, but also a small number of other MEPs propagating xenophobic or racist ideas, laws and policies, will be sitting on the civil liberties committee, taking decisions on the fundamental rights of people living in Europe.”