Nazi symbols will soon be banned in public spaces in Australia, where ultra-right groups are gaining more and more ground and pose a threat of extremist attacks. A bill on the subject will be presented to the Australian Parliament next week and is likely to be passed with the support of opposition parties.
This law will prohibit the display and sale of Nazi insignia such as the swastika or the SS lightning, details the Attorney General Marc Dreyfus. "There is no place in Australia for symbols that glorify the horrors of the Holocaust," he said. "And we will no longer allow anyone to profit from the display and sale of objects that celebrate the Nazis and their evil ideology."
'Anti-Semitism is on the rise'
The Australian Council on Jewish Affairs welcomed the move, calling it welcome "at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world." In recent years, many Australians have joined the ranks of neo-Nazi groups that are redoubling their efforts to recruit new members, according to Australian intelligence.
According to Australia's national security agency, people associated with the ultra-right movement are now involved in 30% of the country's counter-terrorism files. "Regarding the neo-neozi groups, what worries us are the people who are indoctrinated by this ideology and who deplore the lack of action," said Mike Burgess, director general of the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (ASIO). Because they "take action themselves," he continues.
Witness the 2019 Christchurch attack in Australia's neighbor New Zealand, in which an Australian-born white supremacist opened fire at two mosques, killing 51 people and wounding 40. Australia's two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, had already restricted the display of Nazi symbols in public spaces.
This new ban, which will now apply nationwide, will not affect Nazi symbols used for artistic or educational purposes. Nor will it apply to the swastika, a religious symbol widely used in Hinduism and Buddhism which, by its shape, can recall the Nazi swastika.