PARIS (Jan. 24)
A Holocaust-denier will be allowed to return to his lecturing position at a French university despite having been declared guilty of slander.
Bernard Notin, an obscure lecturer in economics at Lyon III University, made headlines in 1990 when someone noticed that a paper he published, in an economics review, openly denied the Holocaust had occurred.
The editor of the review, Economie et Societe, said he had not read Notin’s contribution before publication.
In July 1990, Notin was found guilty of slander and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine to the Movement Against Racism and for Peace, the organization that brought the charges against him.
Notin himself was barred from teaching, but was not demoted. Recently, the board of the university allowed him to go back to lecturing.
This decision infuriated the Movement against Racism, which declared that this decision “hurts the credibility of France’s universities. It is a dangerous decision, and an insult to all the victims of the Holocaust.”
In New York, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he was “flabbergasted that they would reverse themselves.
“It is added insult to the memory of the victims in that, having once recognized their folly, they reinstated Notin. We hope that the voices of outrage will again impact on the university.”
The mayor of Lyon, Michel Noir of the center-right opposition, said it is “important that all those involved, teachers and students, should see to it that (Notin) in his capacity of lecturer doesn’t teach theories totally opposed to the facts of history, so that freedom of teaching will remain in line with respect for the truth.”
And the dean of Lyon III University said that since Notin’s lectures are not a compulsory part of the curriculum, the students “whose sensitivity prevented them from accepting Notin’s presence” could avoid this course.
Dean Pierre Vial is himself an avowed supporter of Jean-Marie Le Pen and his extreme right-wing National Front.
Another such case ended with a doctorate based on Holocaust-denial being revoked.
In 1986, the French government revoked a doctorate granted by the University of Nantes to Henri Roques.
His dissertation questioned the existence of gas chambers at Nazi concentration camps and argued there is no conclusive evidence that Nazis gassed Jews.