Canadian investigated in Germany for suspected hate speech
“Hello, I’m Alfred Schaefer,” is the simple introduction at the beginning of the video.
It doesn’t take long however, before the hate becomes evident.
“The Jews wanted to exterminate the German people,” is a fairly typical statement from Schaefer’s videos.
Schaefer denies the holocaust, which is something he could do safely in Canada, where he grew up. In Germany, where Schaefer now lives, holocaust denial is illegal.
“The German ministry of forbidden thoughts sent the kriminalpolizei, which is like the FBI, to raid our house in order to steal all of my computers and storage devices,” Schaefer described the police investigation.
“They suspected forbidden thoughts on these devices.”
B’nai Brith Canada’s National Director said calls to their hate hot line alerted them to Schaefer’s videos a few months ago.
“When we became aware, we went to our contacts, and made the German authorities away of it,” said Amanda Hohman.
Canada’s hate speech laws are weaker than some other jurisdictions.
Another Canadian’s racist videos can be viewed in Canada but have been blocked from Youtube in close to two dozen countries.
Still, Hohman said the real issue is a lack of enforcement of the laws that Canada does have.
“They are really, rarely enforced and charges are really, rarely laid and then when charges are laid, it is almost impossible to get a conviction,” said Hohman.
Over the past five years in Ontario, there have been 17 charges laid under incitement or promotion of hatred laws, according to the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Of those, there has been just one conviction. Another is going to trial and the rest have been dismissed by the court or withdrawn.
Hohman said law enforcement has to do more, as words lead to action.
“It doesn’t usually end at speech,” she said.
In contrast, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association said the current legal approach goes far enough.
The law is only engaged once speech crosses the line from hatred to inciting violence.
“We have often stood up for the right of people to say horrible, odious things that we disagree with because we think that a free democracy requires freedom of expression because the opposite is censorship,” said Sukanya Pillay, Executive Director and General Counsel for the CCLA.
Meanwhile, Schaefer shows no sign of backing down. His most recent video accused Jewish people of starting both World Wars.
Schaefer has not responded to a request for interview.
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