Ban of swastika not in EU Holocaust ban

30th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

30 January 2007, Brussels (dpa) - Current European Union president Germany said that it was not planning to criminalize the display of Nazi insignia such as the swastika. The move comes after Hindu groups throughout Europe protested against reported plans for such a ban, arguing that the swastika had been part of their religious symbols for nearly 5,000 years before the Nazis appropriated it. Germany, which currently runs the agenda-setting EU presidency, wants to use its term at the bloc's helmet to push

30 January 2007

Brussels (dpa) - Current European Union president Germany said that it was not planning to criminalize the display of Nazi insignia such as the swastika.

The move comes after Hindu groups throughout Europe protested against reported plans for such a ban, arguing that the swastika had been part of their religious symbols for nearly 5,000 years before the Nazis appropriated it.

Germany, which currently runs the agenda-setting EU presidency, wants to use its term at the bloc's helmet to push through new rules which would make denying the Holocaust a crime in the 27 EU member states.

However, the planned legislation "will not seek to prohibit specific symbols such as swastikas," the German EU presidency said in a statement.

Citing its "particular historic responsibility," Germany said it wanted the bloc's member states to adopt the proposed legislation as soon as possible.

The planned rules seek to criminalize racist declarations that are an incitement to violence against a specific person or group. The aim of the proposal is to harmonize national legal systems in their approach to combating racism and xenophobia.

EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini last week welcomed the German proposal, saying that while freedom of expression was part of Europe's values and traditions, its democratic societies also allowed to fight racist speech through penal law.

However, he also said earlier this month that it should be up to national governments to decide on the length of jail sentences for people inciting racism and xenophobia.

While being unanimous in their condemnation of those who deny the Holocaust, EU leaders are split over whether to criminalize such acts.

Germany views a common EU law as a moral obligation, but countries like Britain, Italy and Denmark have resisted common rules as a violation of civil liberties.

Two years ago, Luxembourg tried to use its EU presidency to push through legislation to unify legal standards for Holocaust denial, but was blocked by Italy on the grounds that the proposed rules breached freedom of speech.

The Luxembourg blueprint, which Germany is studying with a view towards copying it, says that racist declarations or Holocaust denial would not be prosecuted if they were expressed in a way that did not incite hatred against an individual or group of people.

Laws against denying the Holocaust already exist in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Spain.

DPA

Subject: German news

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