British nationalist party hosts at EU parliament man who taught dog Nazi salute
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British nationalist party hosts at EU parliament man who taught dog Nazi salute

Mark Meechan tells UKIP members he has not heard of any anti-Semitic attacks inspired by his video, says policing online free speech ‘can lead to fascism’

Mark Meechan (2l), who taught a dog to give a Nazi salute, speaks at a UKIP conference in the European Parliament. (Screen capture: YouTube)
Mark Meechan (2l), who taught a dog to give a Nazi salute, speaks at a UKIP conference in the European Parliament. (Screen capture: YouTube)

European Parliament lawmakers from Britain’s nationalist UKIP party hosted a man who taught his dog to give the Nazi salute when told “gas the Jews,” at a conference on free speech online.

Mark Meechan, who in April was fined £800 ($1,050) for filming the stunt and posting it online, attended and spoke at the UKIP-organized event in Strasbourg, France Monday, The Scotsman reported. David Coburn, one of UKIP’s 24 lawmakers at the European Parliament, announced that Meechan has joined UKIP, saying that he and others like him “are the future” and are “going to take us in a new direction.”

In his speech, Meechan, 30, decried the employment by internet giants of “unseen algorithms analyzing content, either approving of disapproving it before it can go online, open to so much abuse that it’s diabolical.” Policing of free speech online, he said, “can lead to fascism.”

Speaking about his case, he said: “In my video I gave context to what I was doing. I was getting a cute dog to react to a vulgar phrase in order to annoy my girlfriend. The phrase ‘Gas the Jews’ is a horrible phrase. It is and people will be offended by hearing it. But there was no… instruction to actually harm anyone within my video. It was made about two years ago and I have yet to hear of any anti-Semitic attacks carried out because someone was inspired by a pug. You just need to analyze the context in which the phrase was said.”

Buddha, a Scottish dog whose owner taught it to raise its right paw to the sound of the phrase ‘Sieg heil’ (YouTube screenshot)

However, during the trial a Scottish Jewish leader told a court that the clip had stirred up online anti-Semitic sentiment against the local Jewish community.

“The threat is against the Jewish community and there is an echo chamber effect with people trying to be more offensive,” Ephraim Borowski, head of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, told the Airdrie Sheriff Court. “160 pages of messages about this were collected by us in a day, they supported it and it was extremely anti-Semitic.”

Meechan was found guilty of breaching Britain’s Communications Act by posting material that was “grossly offensive” and “anti-Semitic and racist in nature,” in an offense aggravated by religious prejudice, following a trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court in April.

Meechan, of Coatbridge near Glasgow, raised more than $200,000 through a crowdfunding page to pay for legal fees to fund an appeal against his conviction and sentence but his application was refused.

He joined UKIP in the wake of his conviction and on Monday he sat alongside UKIP leader Gerard Batten, Coburn and fellow YouTuber Carl Benjamin at a panel in Strasbourg.

He was there to support the party’s opposition to new EU proposals which would make platforms like YouTube liable for copyright infringements.

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