Prosecutor tells court Montreal man wanted to promote hatred against Jews

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MONTREAL — An article posted on a neo-Nazi website by a Montrealer reaches a high bar for being considered deliberate incitement to hatred, a Quebec prosecutor argued Friday.

MONTREAL — An article posted on a neo-Nazi website by a Montrealer reaches a high bar for being considered deliberate incitement to hatred, a Quebec prosecutor argued Friday.

Gabriel Sohier Chaput, 35, admitted to writing the 2017 article published on the Daily Stormer website, but his lawyer claimed the text was ironic. Sohier Chaput faces only one charge of willful promotion of hatred.

Patrick Lafrenière, who delivered his pleadings before the Quebec court on Friday, tried to demonstrate that the text and the context in which it was published were hateful.

The website hosting the article displayed photos of Adolf Hitler and other images associated with Nazism, Lafrenière told the court, adding that the article indicated that 2017 would be the year of “uninterrupted Nazism, everywhere.”

“You have to consider the context,” Lafrenière said. “Nazism is the greatest manifestation of hatred towards Jews.”

The article’s demeaning comments, its aggressive tone and its portrayal of Jews as “our enemies”, the lawyer said, “are likely to promote hatred” against the Jewish community.

Defense lawyer Hélène Poussard argued in court in March that her client was ironic and trying to make her readers laugh.

Sohier Chaput, meanwhile, testified in court that The Daily Stormer was a “parody site”.

Lafrenière said Friday that the site is by all appearances a serious website and not intended to be a joke.

The prosecutor also disputed Poussard’s argument that his client’s statements were not criminal, saying that describing a community as “our enemies” encourages hatred against that community.

Sohier Chaput, who wrote under the pseudonym Zeiger, published around 1,000 articles on The Daily Stormer, making him one of the site’s most prolific contributors.

Lafrenière said the accused wrote the entire article and that some derogatory terms used towards Jews were not added by an editor, as claimed by Sohier Chaput.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 8, 2022.

Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press

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