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Thursday June 20, 2024

Austria tightens law banning Nazi, extremist symbols

By AFP
December 16, 2023

VIENNA: Austria´s parliament on Friday tightened the law banning Nazi symbols, broadening its scope and increasing punishments for the display and dissemination of any prohibited symbols to counter rising anti-Semitism and extremism.

Austria -- which the Nazis annexed in 1938 -- has some of the world´s strictest laws against Holocaust denial and pro-Nazi activities, but nonetheless convictions are rare.

Armed police officers control a person near the Schwedenplatz following a shooting in central Vienna, Austria. — AFP/File
Armed police officers control a person near the Schwedenplatz following a shooting in central Vienna, Austria. — AFP/File

In 2022, the Austrian government decided to amend its so-called Prohibition Act of 1947 to accommodate for recent developments such as an increase in anti-Semitism and rising radicalisation.

According to the legislation approved by all parties except the far-right FPOe, wearing Nazi insignia or any banned symbols linked to the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas or far-right movements among others will be punished by fines of up to 20,000 euros ($22,000).

Under the amendment, any trivialisation or denial -- even if only in part -- of National Socialist genocide and Nazi crimes against humanity of the Holocaust is punishable, expanding the scope which previously only criminalised “gross” trivialisation.

The legislation -- which required a two-thirds majority in parliament -- also allows for the confiscation of Nazi memorabilia regardless of a criminal conviction.