Combating Anti-Semitism: The Call for Prohibition and Sanction of Nazi Symbols in Belgium

2023-10-27 10:16:00

This display of a symbol of the Nazi regime, comparing Israel to Adolf Hitler’s Germany, was spotted by Dutch journalist Alexander Bakker, then reported by several elected officials.

MP Michael Freilich (N-VA), himself Jewish, was outraged by this display. “Unacceptable! The murder of the Jews is “celebrated” in Brussels with the symbol of hatred par excellence, the Nazi swastika or swastika. I hope for general political disapproval and strict police action in the future!”

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Catherine Fonck (Les Engagés) goes a step further. The federal deputy reiterates her request to legislate clearly to prohibit and sanction all Nazi insignia in public spaces. In 2013, the elected official tabled a bill aimed at prohibiting the wearing or use for propaganda purposes of any Nazi insignia. Seven years later, following a demonstration by Vlaams Belang during which Nazi symbols were displayed, Hennuyère resubmitted its bill.

”In Belgium, unlike Germany and France, the simple reproduction of a Nazi insignia is not prohibited and does not necessarily fall under the law of March 23, 1995 tending to repress negation, minimization , the justification or approval of the genocide committed by the German national socialist regime during the Second World War. Furthermore, the simple wearing of uniforms of this kind does not seem reprehensible either,” its text indicates.

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The Council of State, however, specifies that a penal system already makes it possible to repress Nazi expressions with the law of July 30, 1981 which punishes “certain acts inspired by racism or xenophobia”.

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Catherine Fonck would like the law not only to broadly criminalize expressions of xenophobia, but to specifically mention manifestations linked to the Hitler regime. “The proposed provision punishes with imprisonment of eight days to one year and a fine anyone who wears or displays the swastika, a uniform, a badge, or an emblem recalling German totalitarianism, for propaganda or purposes .”

The text is under discussion in parliament.

The Secretary of State for Equal Opportunities also reacted. “The dramatic events taking place in Israel and the Gaza Strip cannot be used to justify hatred, violence or discrimination in Belgium. There is no place for anti-Semitic, anti-Arab or Islamophobic acts or remarks in our country,” declared Marie-Colline Leroy (Ecolo).

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