British MPs call for online anti-Semitism ban

File picture shows a Jewish man walking with young Jewish boys in Golders Green, London, January 10 , 2015. — Reuters pic
File picture shows a Jewish man walking with young Jewish boys in Golders Green, London, January 10 , 2015. — Reuters pic

LONDON, Feb 9 — British lawmakers today called for people who post racist and anti-Semitic comments online to be banned from social media sites following an upsurge in abuse linked to the Gaza conflict last year.

The MPs said prosecutors should examine whether rules similar to those used to restrict sex offenders’ online access could also be applied to hate crimes.

A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into Anti-Semitism pointed to a surge in Internet abuse, including the trending hashtag “Hitler was right”.

“Rules and restrictions that are relevant to sex offences must surely apply,” the report said.

The study cited police figures showing a 221-percent spike in anti-Semitic crimes and incidents in July 2014 during the Gaza conflict, compared to the same month in 2013 but pointed out that anti-Semitic crime as a whole has been decreasing in recent years.

“The UK has earned a reputation as a world leader in combatting anti-Semitism. If we are to continue to play a leadership role, we must continually review and update our approach,” the report said.

The Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors anti-Semitic hate incidents, said a record number were reported last year.

The trust said that 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents were reported during 2014.

It was more than double the 535 incidents seen in 2013, and the highest annual total seen since CST began records in 1984.

British Home Secretary Theresa May called the report “deeply concerning” and said “Britain without its Jews would not be Britain.” — AFP

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