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Elon Musk leads outrage after Belgian nationalist sentenced to one year in jail for ‘offensive’ memes he didn’t even post

Dries Van Langenhove jailed for memes

Billionaire Tesla and X owner Elon Musk is among those shocked by a jail sentence given to a Belgian activist and former MP for “offensive” memes shared in a chat group.

Dries Van Langenhove, 30 was given a one- year jail sentence, fined €16,000 and given a separate 10-month suspended sentence after being found guilty of denying the Holocaust and inciting violence in the Ghent Criminal Court on Tuesday.

A judge found he “revelled in Nazi ideas” in a chat group along with other members of the Flemish-nationalist group he founded, Schild & Vrienden, where memes were shared.

Van Langenhove insisted he did not commit any crimes, and reacted to the verdict by saying: “A years-long investigation, on which the Justice Department wasted millions of euros of taxpayers’ money, shows that the … activists cannot be charged with anything other than some memes. Humour. Memes that I didn’t even post myself.”

Musk first responded by reposting a Dutch activist Eva Vlaardingerbroek with the comment “Whoa”.

“This is the absolute state of freedom of speech in Europe. They’re jailing patriotic dissidents. Next time they’ll do this to me, you or anyone who goes against the globalist regime,” Vlaardingerbroek’s post read.

“I’m seriously lost for words here. This is full blown tyranny and we should fight it with all our might.”

Musk also responded to a post by Van Langenhove which included examples of the memes he was convicted over, asking: “Someone else sent this meme in a group chat and you were given a prison sentence?”

Van Langenhove responded “yes”, before the Belgian State Secretary for Economic Recovery and Strategic Investments Thomas Dermine weighed in.

“In Belgium, racism is not an opinion. It is a crime,” he said.

Others compared the case to that of Sam Melia, who was jailed for two years for sharing stickers in the UK earlier this month.

Popular Swedish author and nutritionist Marcus Follin wrote: “The real reason for his imprisonment? The Belgian regime fears him. And with good reason – Dries is supremely popular in Belgium. He is also handsome, well-spoken, and a great organiser (to name but a few of his qualities).

“Why are men like Dries and Sam Melia punished for non-crimes, whereas non-European criminals get away with a slap on the wrist? Because the latter are the clients of the regime (supplying votes, for example). The former are a threat to the regime.”

Van Langenhove, who was an independent member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives from 2019 to 2023, also had some of his civil rights suspended for a decade, making him ineligible to be re-elected to parliament.

His lawyer said he would appeal Tuesday’s ruling, which automatically suspended his prison sentence.

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