BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovakia’s police said on Saturday they have charged two members of parliament from a far-right People’s Party-Our Slovakia with extremism for hate speech against the Roma, the Jews and Islam.
If found guilty, they are facing up to six years in prison, according to the penal code.
Right-wing and anti-immigrant parties have been on the rise across Europe after years of slow economic growth and the arrival of more than a million migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa.
In an electoral shock, the far-right People’s Party-Our Slovakia entered the Slovak parliament for the first time last year after winning 8 percent of the vote in March’s election.
Even though Slovakia has seen little immigration analysts have explained the success of anti-system parties by rising public anger over graft scandals linked to traditional parties.
The party openly admires Jozef Tiso, leader of the 1939-1945 Nazi puppet state who allowed tens of thousands of Slovak Jews to be deported to Nazi death camps and was tried for treason after the war. It is also hostile to Slovakia’s Roma minority.
Its lawmaker Stanislav Mizik is facing charges for publishing on a social network a list of “people of Jewish origin and admirers of Roma” among people who were given state honors by President Andrej Kiska earlier this year.
The police have also searched his office in the parliament earlier this week.
Mizik received a 1,000 euro fine for breaching parliamentary standards by calling Islam “satanic” in February.
Another of the party’s lawmakers, Milan Mazurek, has said on social media that the history of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust had been “distorted”.
Slovakia formed a special police unit to fight extremism in February in charge of crimes related to support and the funding of terrorism and extremism, hate crimes and hate speech, both online and offline.
Leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico has been also criticized by human rights groups and socialist colleagues in the European Parliament for refusing to accept the EU quotas on accepting refugees and for saying in a May 2016 interview “there is no space for Islam in Slovakia”.
($1 = 0.9179 euros)
Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Bernard Orr