(Montreal) A Quebecer who has become a figurehead of the American far right has fomented hatred against Jews by urging his many readers to “take action” against them. Described by the judge as an “extremely dangerous” person, Gabriel Sohier-Chaput was immediately arrested, much to the defence’s chagrin.
Posted at 12:42pm Updated at 1:11pm
“Under the pretense of writing humorous, satirical and ironic lyrics, Gabriel Sohier-Chaput has deliberately disseminated hate speech publicly with the aim of reformulating his hate-based ideologies, hoping to influence readers and spread his hate speech to the general public to spread,” Judge Manlio Del Negro said Monday in an imposing 72-page verdict that was read for two hours at the Montreal courthouse.
Gabriel Sohier-Chaput was known within the far-right movement in the United States under the pseudonym “Zerher”. In fact, in 2016 and 2017, the 36-year-old Montreal native was the most prolific writer at the influential neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer, which features the silhouette of Adolf Hitler on every page.
The neo-Nazi intellectual has been accused of willfully inciting hatred of Jews, largely over a single article published in the Daily Stormer five years ago. This publication poked fun at the experience of an Auschwitz survivor by reproducing a television report of the discovery of neo-Nazi posters at a bus stop in British Columbia.
At the beginning of the article, Gabriel Sohier-Chaput writes that 2017 will be “the year of action”. He then conjures up the Jews and goes on to advocate: “Nazism, everywhere, [non-stop nazism] until our streets are flooded with the tears of our enemies”.
According to Judge Del Negro, such statements are “an encouragement — an exhortation to action […] resume the persecution of the Jews and not leave them alone”.
“The message is provocative and inflammatory and aims to desensitize readers to the use of violence. The message conveyed is the promotion of National Socialism and its ideology, namely the persecution and extermination of the Jews. It encourages the reader to see the Jews as their enemies and consequently to dislike and hate them,” the judge concludes.
In the judge’s eyes, it was “clear as rock water” that Gabriel Sohier-Chaput knew that his writings would incite hatred of the Jews. His “snarling, aggressive and violent” tone, in which he advocated the violence of National Socialism, testifies to “malicious intentions”, according to the judge.
Gabriel Sohier-Chaput claimed in his defense that he wanted to show humor, satire and irony and undermine political correctness. The defense had pleaded that he wanted to “make people laugh”. Judge Del Negro is not lacking in qualifications to dismiss this defense.
“The court finds the explanations flimsy, disingenuous, opportunistic, misleading, far-fetched, implausible, concealing the truth and cobbled together to disguise the true intent of the defendant,” claims the judge, even underscoring the “Machiavellianism.” of the accused.
The second part of the article – which Gabriel Sohier-Chaput attributed to the site’s editor, white supremacist Andrew Anglin – was actually written by the defendant, according to the judge. In this section, the author writes that the “ancestral tradition” of berating Jews on the street “definitely” should come back. He also uses very insulting language towards the Jews.
The article also includes an image showing a Nazi commander with a carnivorous smile opening a gas valve, a nod to the Holocaust.
At the trial, defense attorney Hélène Poussard questioned whether it was “legally known” that the Nazi regime exterminated millions of Jews during World War II. The defense presented no evidence or counter-arguments to support its remarks, the judge noted.
However, the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis is an undeniable historical fact, Judge Del Negro insists. That challenge was “doomed to fail,” according to the judge, who is very hard on Me Poussard. Some of the lawyer’s statements “have no place in court,” the judge said.
In the trial, Me Poussard defended the thesis that “people” died in a concentration camp “because we wanted to save money”. “Aren’t you serious?” ‘ the judge was surprised. Me Poussard added that the “Germans” killed the Jews and not necessarily the “Nazis”.
These tensions between Me Poussard and the judge erupted at the very end of Monday’s hearing, when the judge caused a surprise by ordering the immediate detention of Gabriel Sohier-Chaput – to applause from many far-left activists in the courtroom.
Me Hélène Poussard then asked the judge if her decision was related to the complaint she filed with the Judicial Council around Monday. The judge didn’t react.
The judge will return at 2pm to determine whether Gabriel Sohier-Chaput remains incarcerated.