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A 23-year-old Dutch economics student was sentenced to 40 hours of community service Wednesday for creating an online party announcement last August using Nazi slogans and imagery from Auschwitz.
The clip, which drew condemnations from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland, promoted a party called "Housewitz," a play on words combining the name of the Nazi death camp and the "house" musical genre.
Showing an image of emaciated death camp inmates, the clip advises partygoers to "dress as a skinny Jew," then promises "hot showers (free)" against a photographic backdrop of gas chambers. Opportunities for celebratory "gangbanging" are offered alongside a picture of shrunken corpses stacked in a pile.
To view the video click here. Please be advised of explicit content.
Dickie Thijssen, the student who created the clip, has apologized for the incident through his attorney to Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. "He is incredibly sorry about it," the lawyer told the newspaper. "He'd like to scream it from the rooftops."
The party, which never happened, would have taken place three months before Thijssen's clip appeared on the Internet.
Though legal proceedings against Thijssen appear to have reached their conclusion with his sentencing, the case again called attention to the religious and historical sensitivities that have roiled Dutch society in the decades since World War II. The famously liberal seaside nation saw a higher percentage of its Jewish population exterminated during than Holocaust than any other western European nation, and the country continues to struggle over the extent of its collaboration with Hitler's Germany during the war.
Further complicating those issues is the ongoing domestic debate over the limits of free speech and the right to offend, heightened in February by the riots and embassy burnings across the Islamic world over Danish political cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed as a terrorist. Holland has been a particular flashpoint in the debate over religion and political correctness following the November 2004 murder of controversial documentary filmmaker Theo van Gogh at the hands of a Dutch-born Islamic extremist.
While it distanced itself from the content of Thijssen's Holocaust-themed party ad, the Dutch website that originally posted the clip stuck by its decision to do so Wednesday, saying the controversy had inspired constructive public debate. "We and our visitors strongly rejected [Thijssen's] little joke," the website said. Still, it added, "you should not avoid the discussion."
Daniel Kennemer contributed to this report.
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