A Belgian court has recently sentenced a person for spreading hateful internet memes on social networks. This is a first in Belgium! A meme is an idea, behavior, or style that is spread via the Internet, often through social media platforms and especially for humorous purposes.
In the case, the purpose was not at all humorous. Videos of the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand were posted, labelling the images with “giggle” emoticons. In addition, a photo of Adolf Hitler, laughing was uploaded with the caption “Look at Europe now. Miss me yet?”.
The Antwerp Court of First Instance sentenced the author of the memes to a 6-month suspended sentence (for a period of three years) and a fine of 320 euros, for disseminating hateful content, inciting hatred and violence, and Holocaust denial. Unia (the Belgian independent public institution that fights discrimination and promotes equal opportunities), that published this information, was a civil party in the case.
This article was co-authored by Edouard Cruysmans in his capacity of Professional Support Lawyer at Stibbe.