- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2006

BERLIN — The trial of an author charged with denying the Holocaust resumed in a German court yesterday, coming at an awkward time for Europeans citing freedom of speech to defend the publication of cartoons that have enraged the Muslim world.

Ernst Zuendel, 66, in jail since he was deported by Canada last year, faces charges of inciting racial hatred and denying that the Nazis killed 6 million Jews. Saying the Holocaust didn’t happen is a crime in Germany, Austria, France and several other European countries.

Mr. Zuendel’s work includes a book called “Did 6 Million Really Die?” Another Holocaust denier, British historian David Irving, faces trial in an Austrian court beginning Feb. 20. He was arrested during a trip to Austria in November and is in jail in Vienna.

The cases could provoke accusations of double standards by Muslims offended by cartoons of the prophet Muhammad first published last year in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and reprinted in several papers across Europe in defense of free speech.

Publication of the cartoons, one of which showed Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a fizzing fuse, has led to often violent protests in which at least 11 persons have been killed.

Muslim clerics and politicians have accused the Western press of hypocrisy in refraining from lampooning Jews while denigrating Islam. Iran’s top-selling newspaper this week announced a competition for cartoons about the Holocaust.

Hendrik Zoerner, a spokesman for Germany’s Federal Union of Journalists, said journalists didn’t have a problem with the ban on denying the Holocaust.

“It’s no double standard. Germany has a special history and very special responsibility regarding its past,” he said. “I don’t think we have to enter into a serious debate with this hostile propaganda.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said this week that she could understand that many Muslims felt insulted by the cartoons. “But I say, on the other hand, that it is an important and inalienable value that we have freedom of the press,” she said in a television interview.

Debate about the Holocaust has fueled deterioration in relations between Europe and Iran, already at a low point over Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iran has said it plans to hold a conference to examine the scale of the Holocaust, which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has described as a myth.

Mr. Zuendel’s trial began in November but was suspended after the judge dismissed his publicly appointed attorney when she produced submissions that themselves appeared to deny the Holocaust.

Prosecutors said Mr. Zuendel, who emigrated to Canada at 19, was among the most active Holocaust deniers and spread his message worldwide via a Web site and several publications.

The resumption of proceedings yesterday was dominated by procedural disputes between Mr. Zuendel’s team and the judge. Many in the public gallery applauded Mr. Zuendel as he walked into the courtroom.

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