On Friday, April 24, authorities in Prague arrested long-time anti-Semite and white supremacist David Duke, who was visiting the Czech Republic to deliver speeches promoting his racist and anti-Jewish ideology. The arrest came as a result of suspicions that Duke was denying the Holocaust, an offense that, if convicted, could have landed him in prison for up to three years.
Neo-Nazis in the Czech Republic invited Duke to deliver lectures in Prague and Brno. However, Prague's Charles University cancelled Duke's scheduled appearance at the school, due to reports that neo-Nazis were planning to attend.
According to a Czech police spokesperson, charges will not be brought against Duke, who was ordered to leave the country the following day. Duke has traveled to Verona, Italy, according to white supremacist Don Black, a close ally of Duke's who runs Stormfront, the largest and most popular white supremacist Internet forum.
Information about Duke's arrest was immediately posted to his Web site. An individual who posted a piece on the site exploited the arrest to advance Duke's anti-Semitic ideology, describing the incident as evidence of "how Jewish-controlled and biased the local Czech government is." In an April 25 post to his site, Duke himself wrote that he traveled to the area to "lecture about the Israeli influence over American and European foreign policy and the International Zionist Banking firms that are leading America and the world to financial oblivion, globalist hegemony, and unending war."
The allegations of Holocaust denial against Duke came as a result of statements he made in My Awakening, his 1998 self-published, 700-page autobiographical polemic, which Duke was reportedly going to promote during his speeches in the Czech Republic. In the book, Duke reaffirmed his racist, anti-Semitic, sexist and homophobic beliefs. Relying on classic strategies invoked by the Holocaust deniers, he tried to deconstruct the Holocaust, piece by piece, in an attempt to discredit the "Jewish" version of the story.
In recent years, Duke has attempted to make himself an international figure by promoting his anti-Jewish ideology in Europe and the Middle East. He has been particularly well-received in Russia and in Ukraine, where he taught at a university in 2006.
Duke has been active in the white supremacist movement for over 40 years. In the last two decades, he has tried to position himself as a "respectable racist." He was an early advocate of the now common effort on the far right to camouflage racist ideas by focusing on hot-button issues like affirmative action and immigration and appealing to race and class resentments. He was instrumental in the Klan resurgence of the 1970s and was one of the first neo-Nazi and Klan leaders to stop the use of Nazi and Klan regalia and ritual, as well as other traditional displays of race hatred. Duke continues to write articles and books, to convene conferences, and to speak publicly for the purposes of demonizing Jews and other minorities.