(photo credit: Courtesy)
An Islamic religion teacher disputed the testimony of a Nazi concentration camp survivor who recounted his story to students in a Brussels secondary school, Le Soir daily newspaper reported last week.
Henri Kichka, from the Union of Jewish deportees in Belgium, had been invited last Friday by the school in Laeken, a Brussels commune, to describe how he survived Buchenwald and his family members were killed in the death camps.
During the meeting with 150 students, the school was told by a teacher of Islamic religion that Kichka's account "was largely exaggerated."
"This never happened to me in 25 years," Kichka, who is regularly invited to meet young people, told Le Soir.
The school management had decided to film the meeting because, it said, "witnesses disappear and we want to keep tracks."
Christian Dupont, education minister in the French-speaking Belgian government, said he was "shocked" by the "totally unacceptable" comments by the religion teacher. An inquiry has been opened and a legal complaint lodged, the ministry said in a statement. It is studying a videotape of the event, which could lead to the teacher's dismissal.
On Monday, the trade unions saw the videotape. "To us, there is no doubt, the teacher quoted negationist ideas from Roger Garaudy," a French revisionist author and philosopher who converted to Islam and called the Holocaust a "myth."
"This will not remain without effect," the school said.
The representative body of Muslims in Belgium, which appoints the teachers of religion, reacted swiftly.
"Negationism is an offense. Our teachers must respect the Constitution and laws of this country. Otherwise there will be sanctions," it said.
Holocaust denial is an offense in Belgium subject to prison term.