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Argentina to expel Holocaust bishop
UK-born priest who denies Jews were gassed in chambers given 10 days to leave country.
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2009 17:28 GMT
Williamson wants more time to review the evidence before changing his views on the Holocaust [AFP]

Argentina has orderd a Roman Catholic bishop who denied the extent of the Holocaust to leave the country or face expulsion.

The country's interior ministry on Thursday gave Bishop Richard Williamson, who headed a seminary near Buenos Aires until earlier this month, 10 days to leave the country.

"The interior minister ... orders Richard Nelson Williamson to leave the country within 10 days or be expelled," Argentina's government said in a statement.

Williamson has said he believes there were no gas chambers and that no more than 300,000 Jews died in Germany's Nazi concentration camps.

The number of those killed in the Holocaust that is widely accepted is six million.

'Deeply offended'

The Vatican has ordered Williamson to retract his comments. The British-born bishop responded that he needed more time to review the evidence.

Argentina's government said that Williamson's views were anti-Semitic and "deeply offended Argentine society".

Argentina is home to one of the world's largest Jewish communities outside of Israel.

The Reuter's news agency reported clergymen at the Buenos Aires seminary as saying Williamson had already left the compound.

Williamson belongs to the ultra-traditional Society of Saint Pius X.

Pope criticised

Last month, Pope Benedict, the head of the Roman Catholic church, angered Jewish leaders and many Catholics by lifting the excommunication of Williamson and three others in a bid to heal a 20-year-old schism within the Church.

The schism began in 1988 when the four were ordained without Vatican permission.

World Jewish organisations and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, criticised the pope for rehabilitating Williamson.

The pope, who is German-born, has tried to heal wounds by meeting Jewish leaders and ordering Williamson to recant his views.
   
Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany and state prosecutors in the southern city of Regensburg are investigating Williamson for incitement.
   
German neo-Nazi websites and blogs have published pieces supporting Williamson's stand.

Source:
Agencies
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