Swiss Jews welcome the decision of the Legal Commission of the National Council to support a ban on Nazi symbols

The Legal Commission of the National Council has come out in favour of a ban on National Socialist symbols.

On 12 January 2023, the Legal Commission of the National Council spoke out in favour of tougher action against Nazi symbols. It proposes a “special legal ban on the public use of National Socialist symbols”. In addition, it supports the parliamentary initiative “Ban on the public use of extremist, violence-glorifying and racist symbols” by National Councillor Angelo Barrile. The Commission thus follows the demands of the two Jewish umbrella organisations, the SIG and the Platform of Liberal Jews of Switzerland PLJS.

The Law Commission opposes Nazi symbols

The proposed special law is intended to prohibit the public use and dissemination of National Socialist symbols or modifications. This includes flags, badges, emblems, slogans or greetings, but also objects containing such symbols or variations, such as writings, sound and image recordings or illustrations. The parliamentary initiative, in turn, calls for legal adjustments to criminalise the public use of propaganda material, in particular of National Socialism, which is aimed at the systematic disparagement or defamation of members of a race, ethnicity or religion. The proposal thus also includes Nazi symbols such as the swastika.

The law in Switzerland currently prohibits swastika flags or the Hitler salute in public only if they are used to “actively promote the ideology”. In contrast, use among like-minded people, even in public, is not punishable. As a result, right-wing extremists and other groups can often appear in public with National Socialist symbols with impunity. Such symbols are also misused to accentuate and scandalise political messages. This is particularly hurtful and incomprehensible for affected minorities. The SIG, the PLJS and wide socio-political circles see an urgent need for action here.

Create a ban on Nazi symbols with a special law

The SIG and the PLJS welcome these groundbreaking decisions of the National Council’s Legal Commission, especially the one for a special law against Nazi symbols. With the special law, a clear and comprehensible catalogue of National Socialist symbols can be banned as a first step. An extension to other symbols in the future is not excluded. In this way, the Commission avoids the difficult task of having to draw up a comprehensive and conclusive list of racist, violence-glorifying and extremist symbols and takes the path of a step-by-step approach. In a next step, both motions will be dealt with by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of States. In the deliberations in the Second Council, it is also crucial that the commission members focus on the essential goal: at a minimum, National Socialist symbols must be banned as a first step.


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