British legislators canceled speeches at Oxford University after David Irving was invited to speak there.
Irving, a Briton convicted of Holocaust denial in Austria last year, is scheduled to speak Nov. 26 at the renowned Oxford Union debating society’s Free Speech Forum. Also causing controversy is the scheduled speech of Nick Griffin, head of the extreme-right British National Party, which has been accused of encouraging racism.
Defense Secretary Des Browne and other British officials were scheduled to speak on other days. Brown and three Parliament members have canceled their speaking engagements. Denis MacShane, a Labor Party lawmaker, canceled his speaking engagement at the union last week.
“Inviting two notorious Jew-haters … to the most prestigious debating student forum in the world will validate today’s anti-Semitism which is a poisonous ideology emanating from the extreme right as well as the Israel-hating left and Islamist ideologues,” MacShane said in an e-mailed statement to The Associated Press. “The British National Party mixes anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia in equal measure. David Irving is the Holocaust Denier-in-Chief.”
Irving, an amateur historian, presented two speeches in Austria in 1989 during which he questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. Holocaust denial is a crime in Austria.
Irving was jailed in Austria last February, then had his sentence reduced from three years to 13 months. He repeatedly has questioned established facts about the Holocaust since his release and return to Britain.