Ger­many right to re­mind tourists it has no tol­er­ance for banned sym­bols

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

TWO CHI­NESE MEN, aged 36 and 49, were ar­rested by lo­cal po­lice for tak­ing pho­tos of each other mak­ing a Nazi salute out­side the Re­ich­stag, seat of the lower house of Par­lia­ment, in Ber­lin — an il­le­gal act un­der Ger­man laws. Bei­jing News com­mented on Mon­day:

The con­se­quences fol­low­ing the two men’s il­le­gal be­hav­ior in the front of a Ger­man his­toric build­ing came as a shock to some Chi­nese ne­ti­zens, who ar­gued a lit­tle tol­er­ance should have been ex­er­cised in the han­dling of the in­ci­dent.

How­ever, what the two men did was more than tak­ing cell­phone pic­tures of each other. They will know what salute they were mak­ing, even if, as they claim, they were un­aware of the Ger­man laws pro­hibit­ing the use of cer­tain sym­bols and ges­tures.

Ger­many has strict laws on hate speech and sym­bols linked to Hitler and the Nazis.

Us­ing Nazi sym­bols, slo­gans and ges­tures vi­o­lates the post-1945 laws of the coun­try, as does pro­mot­ing Nazi ide­ol­ogy and beau­ti­fy­ing war crim­i­nals. Those deny­ing, pub­li­ciz­ing, or play­ing down the Holo­caust, can be charged with sedi­tion and put be­hind bars for five years.

The Ber­lin po­lice did their job by hold­ing the two

ac­count­able for their Nazi salutes. Since the end of World War II Ger­many has not just re­flected upon its war crimes but also gone to great lengths to erad­i­cate its Nazi “legacy”. The coun­try’s zero tol­er­ance to­ward any at­tempt to res­ur­rect Nazi cul­ture shows it is se­ri­ous about break­ing with that part of its past.

That is why Ger­many has been ac­cepted by the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity as a nor­mal state again.

The two Chi­nese tourists are now free on bail, which was set at €500 ($590) per per­son, ac­cord­ing to re­ports.

They could face a fine or a prison sen­tence of up to three years for “us­ing sym­bols of il­le­gal or­ga­ni­za­tions”, ac­cord­ing to the Ger­man po­lice. But it is not a case of Ger­many be­ing in­tol­er­ant, rather it is uphold­ing laws that ev­ery­one must ad­here to so that the specter of the past is not given a new form.

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