Belgian Nationalist Sentenced to a Year in Prison Over 'Hateful Memes' Shared in Private Group Chat

Chris Menahan
Mar. 12, 2024

Belgian nationalist activist and former member of parliament Dries Van Langenhove was sentenced to one year in prison on Tuesday for being part of a private group chat seven years ago where people shared "racist" and "antisemitic" memes.

"Belgian nationalist activist and former member of parliament Dries Van Langenhove has just been sentenced to a year in prison, a 16,000 euro fine, and ten years of 'deprived civil rights' which will mean he is barred from politics," Keith Woods reported on Twitter.

"His crime? He was in a private groupchat where offensive memes were posted," he added. "This is an absolute disgrace. Western regimes are reaching new levels of tyranny to suppress nationalism."

X owner Elon Musk highlighted the insane case to his 176 million followers:

From the AP:
The chats on the Shield and Friends site included the most macabre jokes and memes on anything from famine in Africa to Holocaust concentration camps.

Van Langenhove, 30, said he did not commit any crimes.

"A years-long investigation, on which the Justice Department wasted millions of euros of taxpayers' money, shows that the ... activists cannot be charged with anything other than some memes. Humor. Memes that I didn't even post myself," he said in a reaction.

Some of the parties in the case lodged complaints following the VRT documentary.

"The ridiculing of gas chambers, of incinerators, that was so over the top for me that I spontaneously lodged a complaint," said Henri Heimans, a former magistrate whose parents survived the Nazi death camps. "Then, of course, I unwittingly ended up in a procedural battle that lasted for years."

Van Langenhove was not at the court in Ghent, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Brussels, but his lawyer said he would appeal the ruling, which automatically suspends his imprisonment. He was also fined 16,000 euros ($17,470).
In a similar case a week ago, British nationalist Sam Melia was sentenced to two years in prison in the UK for "intending to stir up racial hatred" by sharing various anti-immigration stickers.

American nationalist Douglass Mackey in October 2023 was sentenced to 7 months in prison for sharing joke memes on Twitter claiming Democrats could vote for Hillary Clinton by phone in the 2016 election.

Two weeks ago, the Israeli paper the Jerusalem Post ran a column calling for "antisemitism" to be "criminalized" worldwide in order to stop criticism of Israel amid their genocidal ethnic cleansing campaign in Gaza.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem heeded the call and without any care for the First Amendment signed the "strongest" hate crime bill in America into law to "stop antisemitism" and "ensure the security of God's chosen people."

Noem said the bill "will serve as model legislation for states across America."

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