One of the founders of Extinction Rebellion was facing possible expulsion from the movement on Wednesday over remarks in which he allegedly questioned the significance of the Holocaust.
Roger Hallam, a former organic farmer in south Wales who co-founded the global activist movement, described the Holocaust as “just another f***ery in human history”, according to Zeit, a leading German newspaper.
Extinction Rebellion’s German chapter issued an immediate statement distancing itself “explicitly” from the remarks and saying Mr Hallam was “no longer welcome” in Germany.
The environmental movement’s British chapter also "unreservedly denounced" the comments last night and suggested Mr Hallam could be forced out.
"Jewish people and many others are deeply wounded by the comments," read a statement.
"We stand by restorative outcomes as preferable, although in some cases exclusion is necessary," it continued, saying internal deliberations were ongoing.
Mr Hallam has previously come under fire for a speech he gave at an Amnesty International event earlier this year in which he compared the climate emergency to Auschwitz.
Zeit alleged his latest remarks came in response to a question from one of its reporters about that speech.
“The terrible emotion Auschwitz caused has not been hidden, and the same needs to apply to the climate crisis,” the newspaper quoted Mr Hallam as saying. “Only emotion drives people to make a difference.”
The newspaper claimed Mr Hallam went on to question the unique significance given to the Holocaust.
“There are various debates about whether the Holocaust was unique or not. I know that there is a conviction it was in Germany, but with all due respect I do not agree,” it quoted him as saying. “For me it’s just another f–kery in human history”.
Zeit took the unusual step of quoting the last sentence in English to avoid any risk of mistranslation.
Mr Hallam has said his remarks were taken out of context.
“German culture is traumatised. The extent of this trauma can paralyse. That prevents you from learning," Zeit further quoted Mr Hallam as saying. "The fact is that in our history, millions of people have been regularly killed under dire circumstances. The Belgians were in Congo in the late 19th century and decimated it… Genocides have happened again and again over the past 500 years."
Mr Hallam was one of several activists arrested in September after attempting to fly drones near Heathrow airport.
He was released on bail last month but still faces charges of conspiring to cause a public nuisance.
He previously told Germany’s Spiegel magazine: “When a society acts this immorally, democracy is irrelevant”.
“We explicitly distance ourselves from Roger Hallam’s remarks which belittle and relativise the Holocaust,” a spokesman for Extinction Rebellion Germany said.
“He violates the principles of Extinction Rebellion, which does not tolerate racism or anti-Semitism, and is no longer welcome at Extinction Rebellion Germany.”
Extinction Rebellion in the UK said it was preparing a response to Mr Hallam’s alleged remarks.
"I fully acknowledge the unimaginable suffering caused by the Nazi holocaust, that led to all of Europe saying ‘Never again’," Mr Hallam told the Telegraph.
"But it is happening again, on a far greater scale, and in plain sight. The global north is pumping lethal levels of CO2 into the atmosphere and simultaneously erecting ever greater barriers to immigration, turning whole regions of the world into death zones.
"Let’s be clear: the real outrage is not to speak about the Holocaust, the real outrage is the complicity in the global holocaust that is already underway. We are allowing our governments to willingly, and in full knowledge of science, engage in the genocide of our young people."
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