Former Parliament Member Gets a Year in Prison

Ex-Politician SENTENCED - He's Going to Jail!

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On charges of hate speech, a former politician from Belgium was sentenced to one year in prison. Former member of the Flemish parliament and separatist Dries Van Langenhove said he had been joking online. As far as the prosecution was concerned, he was endorsing white supremacy and Nazi philosophy.

At just 30 years old, Van Langenhove is one of Belgium’s younger politicians. He’s also one of the more extreme ones. When he was at university he was an activist for a Flemish nationalist group that wanted the northern Flanders region of Belgium to separate from the French-speaking south.

Despite not being a member of the nationalist Vlaams Belang party, he was elected to parliament in 2019 under their banner. Nevertheless, he resigned from parliament in February of last year after announcing his belief that action, rather than politics, was the best way to achieve change.

Even though Van Langenhove didn’t say it, a legal matter that started in 2020, when a court started looking into a youth club he had founded, could have been another cause for his departure. Investigative journalists broke into the group’s hidden social media groups and discovered that members were inciting violence, making pro-Nazi comments, and exchanging racist, sexist, and antisemitic humor. A new judge presided over Van Langenhove’s trial in September 2023, even though he succeeded in having one judge withdraw herself due to her political leaning.

Ghent Criminal Court found Van Langenhove to be “infatuated with Nazi ideas” and intent on undermining Belgian democracy on March 13, despite the fact that his attorneys argued the jokes were meaningless in court. Despite the fact that Nazi Germany ruled Belgium from 1940 to 1944, the country has stringent laws that forbid the glorification of Nazism and the denial of the Holocaust. Van Langenhove is now ten years from being able to hold public office, fined €16,000 (about $17,500), and sentenced to one year in jail.

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