January 09, 2006
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'Housewitz' producer might be prosecuted
Updated: 21/Dec/2005 16:08
The entrance of the Auschwitz death camp
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The Dutch authorities are considering bringing charges against a student who used images of the concentration camp at Auschwitz in a publicity video for a hoax techno rave.

The film purported to give details of an electronic music festival called "Housewitz", a reference to "house" music. It used images of the Auschwitz camp in Poland, turning the slogan above its main gate "Arbeit macht frei" (Work frees) into "Tanzen macht frei" (Dance frees).

The clip announced the DJ’s Michel der Heidi and Adolf Von Bauren with Sieg Heil, and spoke about “seven million party people, set their body’s on fire”, and said the dresscode was “skinny Jew”.

It also included many horrific pictures of the former death camp with statements such as “hot showers, free of charge” and “train stops at party ground”.

Possible prosecution

“The police have examined the content of the film and its producer has been questioned," a spokesman for the Rotterdam prosecutor’s office said on Monday.

"At the beginning of January our services should take a decision on a possible prosecution.”

The spokesman said that the authorities will be examining the film to “check if its content is discriminatory” and the author may be prosecuted and jailed for a year if he is found guilty.

The video was produced by a 23 year old student living in the southwest of the country and identified by the Dutch media as Dickie Thijssen. Thijssen apologised extensively on the internet for the offence caused by his video.

“I should never have done it. It was just a very, very bad joke. I couldn’t imagine how much people would be hurt. I’m very, very sorry and I will never do it again,” he said.

In August the Dutch Internet-regulating body decided to bring charges against the site that was putting out the video.

But the weblog refused to remove the clip with a so called ‘educational’ argument: “This clip shows how our educational system has failed.”

The festival was due to take place in the Netherlands on May 4, the day on which the nation commemorates victims of war, but was in any event a hoax since no such party was planned.

"Judge the product and not the ’reasons behind’ it"

The film was greeted with outrage by the Dutch justice ministry, the Auschwitz museum and the Polish foreign ministry.

"We will leave it up to the judge to decide if he is guilty or not and if we think his decision is wrong we will engage in another justice action," Nathan Bouscher of the Centre for Information and Documentation Israel (CIDI) in The Hague told EJP. The CIDI requested to remove the clip from its site in August.

"The problem is that instead of looking at the product and deciding whether it is anti-Semitic or not, they look at the reason why Thijssen created this clip and the judge is likely to say that the purpose of the clip was not aimed at hurting Jews but simply to joke around," he pointed out.

"Basically, they can conclude that although it looks anti-Semitic but that was not the goal of the clip creator."

"That’s where we do not agree. We believe they should judge the product and not the ’reasons behind’ it," Bouscher added.

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