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