Polish MEP under fire for alleged anti-Semitic document

The President of the European Parliament Hans Gert Poettering has publicly reprimanded Polish MEP Maciej Giertych for publishing a pamphlet described as anti-Semitic. And in a European Parliament first Giertych could face sanctions. He's a member of the conservative League of Polish Families and disagrees with the charges against him.

The Chairman of the European Parliament accused Maciej Giertych of acting against the values of the European Union, Hans Gert Peottering has reprimanded the Polish MEP for his booklet "Civilisations at War in Europe", published with a logo of the European Parliament and declared to be a highly anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic pamphlet. Hans Gert Poettering said that the publication violates the basic human rights such as human dignity:

".....tolerance and respect for others are important European values, which are the center of my political priorities and to which the European Parliament is deeply committed. The European Parliament condemns all forms of xenophobia, and should under no circumstances be associated with the views published in your brochure."

Maciej Giertych, member of the Catholic right junior coalition party League of Polish Families published the pamphlet in February. The 32 pag booklet "Civilisations at War in Europe" presents Giertych's concept of race and says that Jews are " biologically different " from "gentiles" and "prefer to voluntarily live separately from the communities which surround them". A demonstration was held in Strasbourg on Monday against the publication. The protest was attended also by Polish Euro deputies, among them Bronislaw Geremek, Poland's former head of diplomacy.

"People who have come to protest in front of the parliament buildings were unanimous in saying that such a demonstration of racist views should never have taken place within the auspices of a united Europe..."

The president of the European Parliament had initially requested an investigation into the financing of the pamphlet, published with the official parliament logo. It later appeared that Giertych had not received any EU funding for the book, but the logo on it added to the wrath the book caused. Beata Plomecka ,Polish Radio correspondent in Brussels

"The European socialists saw the brochure two weeks ago, read it and said it is of xenophobic nature, and its impossible that the logo of the European Parliament is on such a publication. A row over the booklet was also heard in other EU countries. International organisations, Jewish organisations strongly condemned such a publication."

The booklet contains various ideas on races, civilisation and culture. Maciej Giertych writes that Jews backed both sides in conflicts, whereas "we", a reference to Christians "fight for justice".The author himself rejects any of the accusations leveled at him. He says that his publication does not contain any racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic ideas and intends to appeal against the decision of the European Parliament president. He does not agree with any of the explanations presented to him.

"None what so ever. I was reprimanded but in the letter I got from the president there is no explanation, which particular statement in my book has been the cause of this reprimand. And of course I shall apply to get this information, since I am entitled to know why I was reprimanded."

The reprimand is the mildest available sanction under parliamentary disciplinary rules and does not in any way change the status of Maciej Giertych in European parliament. Beata Plomecka again.

"It only shows that the behaviour of the MEP was condemned. But is does not change his status, he was not banned from Parliament or fined."

Hans Gert Poettering could have also imposed a 10 day suspension from parliament. But the case it seems is not yet ended. Maciej Giertych intends to appeal, while a Belgian MEP intends to look into the possibility of bringing a legal case against the Polish MEP, which could allow an EU member state to seek to have his parliamentary immunity from prosecution lifted.