GERMANY CRIMINALIZES BURNING EU AND FOREIGN FLAGS


16/05/2020




İrem UZUN -TDO- German parliament Bundestag passed a law making the burning of flags from the EU or foreign countries a punishable offense. Under the new law, violators can receive up to three years in prison. The vote makes burning foreign flags in public equal to burning German flag and classified it as a “hate crime”.

The main triggering event for the legislation was a 2017 demonstration in Berlin, in which 2,500 people protested against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The protestors torched an Israeli flag, prompting police at the time to initiate investigations into 11 people in connection with the flag burning. About the incident, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said that "burning flags in public has nothing to do with peaceful protest”. Instead, its aim is to "stir up hatred, anger and aggression," she added.

Before the new law, German penal code used to provide protection for national symbols only under several conditions, such as having a diplomatic relation with the country. Now, the new law aims to extend the scope of protection. During the voting session in the parliament, the far-right Alternative for Germany became the only party that voted against the law. According to Deutsche Welle, they argued that “it interfered excessively with the freedom of expression and artistic creativity of German citizens”.


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