Incitement to ethnic or racial hatred

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Incitement to ethnic or racial hatred is a crime under the laws of several countries.


In Australia, the Racial Hatred Act 1995 amends the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, inserting Part IIA – Offensive Behaviour Because of Race, Colour, National or Ethnic Origin. It does not, however, address the issue of incitement to racial hatred. The Australian state of Victoria has addressed the question, however, with its enactment of the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001.


In Finland, agitation against an ethnic group (Finnish: kiihottaminen kansanryhmää vastaan) is a crime according to the Criminal Code of Finland's (1889/39 and 2011/511) chapter 11, section 10:

Section 10 – Ethnic agitation (511/2011)

"A person who makes available to the public or otherwise spreads among the public or keeps available for the public information, an expression of opinion or another message where a certain group is threatened, defamed or insulted on the basis of its race, skin colour, birth status, national or ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability or a comparable basis, shall be sentenced for ethnic agitation to a fine or to imprisonment for at most two years."

Section 10(a) – Aggravated ethnic agitation (511/2011)

"If the ethnic agitation involves incitement or enticement (1) to genocide or the preparation of genocide, a crime against humanity, an aggravated crime against humanity, a war crime, an aggravated war crime, murder, or manslaughter committed for terrorist intent, or (2) to serious violence other than what is referred to in paragraph 1 so that the act clearly endangers public order and safety, and the ethnic agitation also when assessed as a whole is aggravated, the offender shall be sentenced for aggravated ethnic agitation to imprisonment for at least four months and at most four years."[1]


Section 24 of the Press Law of 1881 criminalizes incitement to racial discrimination, hatred, or violence on the basis of one's origin or membership in an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group.[2] A criminal code provision deems it an offense to engage in similar conduct via private communication.[3]

In 2002, four Muslim organizations filed a complaint against Michel Houellebecq for stating that Islam was "stupid" and "dangerous" in an interview. The court found that Houellebecq was not immune from the charge on the grounds of literary immunity or freedom of speech, but acquitted him on the grounds that he criticized Islam rather than individual Muslims.[4][5][6] In 2005, politician Jean Marie Le Pen was convicted of inciting racial hatred, for comments made to Le Monde in 2003 about the consequences of Muslim immigration in France.[7][8][9] Similar complaints were brought in 2015 after he compared Muslim street prayers to the Nazi occupation of France in 2010, but he was acquitted.[10] In 2008, actress and animal-rights campaigner Brigitte Bardot was convicted on charges of inciting racial hatred for her criticism concerning the ritual slaughter of sheep during the feast of Eid al-Adha in a letter to then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Bardot had been convicted of inciting racial hatred on four other occasions over the previous 11 years for criticizing Muslim immigration.[11][12][13][14]


Volksverhetzung, in English "incitement to hatred" (used also in the official English translation of the German Criminal Code),[15][16] "incitement of popular hatred", "incitement of the masses", or "instigation of the people", is a concept in German criminal law that refers to incitement to hatred against segments of the population and refers to calls for violent or arbitrary measures against them, including assaults against the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously maligning, or defaming segments of the population.[15][16][17]

It is often applied to, though not limited to, trials relating to Holocaust denial in Germany. The criminal code (Strafgesetzbuch) Chapter 7 (Offences against public order), Paragraph 130 (Incitement to hatred) of the Federal Republic of Germany defines when a person is guilty of Volksverhetzung.[15][16][17]

United Kingdom[edit]

Under the law of the United Kingdom, "incitement to racial hatred" was established as an offence by the provisions of ss. 17–29 of the Public Order Act 1986, punishable by two years' imprisonment (now seven years). It was first established as a criminal offence in the Race Relations Act 1976.

This offence refers to:

  • deliberately provoking hatred of a racial group
  • distributing racist material to the public
  • making inflammatory public speeches
  • creating racist websites on the Internet
  • inciting inflammatory rumours about an individual or an ethnic group, for the purpose of spreading racial discontent.

In England and Wales, laws against incitement to hatred against people on religious grounds were later established under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oy, Edita Publishing. "FINLEX ® – Ajantasainen lainsäädäntö: Rikoslaki 39/1889". Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  2. ^ Loi du 29 juillet 1881 sur la liberté de la presse
  3. ^ Loi n° 90-615 du 13 juillet 1990 tendant à réprimer tout acte raciste, antisémite ou xénophobe
  4. ^ Michael Curtis, Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East
  5. ^ "French writer who called Islam 'stupid' cleared by judges". 23 October 2002.
  6. ^ Webster, Paul (17 September 2002). "Calling Islam stupid lands author in court" – via The Guardian.
  7. ^ "Jean-Marie Le Pen condamné pour incitation à la haine raciale". Le 24 February 2005 – via Le Monde.
  8. ^ "WORLD – France".
  9. ^ "Le Pen convicted of inciting racial hatred". 11 May 2006.
  10. ^ "Marine Le Pen cleared of inciting hatred". 15 December 2015.
  11. ^ Crumley, Bruce (15 April 2008). "Is Brigitte Bardot Bashing Islam?". Time – via
  12. ^ Editorial, Reuters (3 June 2008). "Ex-film star Bardot gets fifth racism conviction". Reuters.
  13. ^ the feast of Eid al-Adha
  14. ^ Poirier, Agnès (20 September 2014). "Brigitte Bardot at 80: still outrageous, outspoken and controversial" – via The Guardian.
  15. ^ a b c Bohlander, Michael (1998), Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz: GERMAN CRIMINAL CODE [Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection: GERMAN CRIMINAL CODE], Federal Ministry of Justice, Germany, para. 130 sec. 1
  16. ^ a b c Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz: Strafgesetzbuch [Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection: Criminal Code] (in German), Federal Ministry of Justice, Germany, para. 130 sec. 1
  17. ^ a b Shoshan, Nitzan (2008), Reclaiming Germany: Young Right Extremists, the Return of the Nation, and the State of Politics on the Streets of East Berlin, vol. 1, Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago, p. 183, ISBN 9780549931096

External links[edit]