Switzerland’s lower house moves to ban use of Nazi and extremist symbols that could stir violence

The lower house of Swiss parliament followed in the footsteps of the Senate, or upper house, in approving a measure that would ban the use of, public wearing or display of Nazi and racist symbols that could foment extremist hate or violence.

The proposal — years in the making — goes beyond a simple ban on Nazi memorabilia, which had failed in the past in parliament, to include other forms of extremist symbols that could stir hatred or violence. The National Council in the capital, Bern, in a 133-38 vote with 17 abstentions, passed

Most political groups backed the measure and overcame opposition from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, which has the most seats in the two chambers. The vote puts Switzerland on track to join other European countries that have enacted similar bans.

Efforts to push for tougher legislation have accelerated in recent months in the wake of a surge of antisemitic attacks across Europe and beyond that accompanied the start of the latest Israel-Hamas war in Gaza more than six months ago.

“Today in Switzerland, it’s possible — even permitted — to fly a flag with a swastika on the balcony. It’s possible to fly a flag with the image of the ‘SS’ on the windshield of your car. It’s possible to make a Hitler salute in the public space,” said Green lawmaker Raphael Mahaim, in a debate preceding the vote.

The measure will now head to the executive Federal Council for a finalized text that can be written into law by parliament.

Justice Minister Beat Jans said the seven-member council last week expressed support for the measure, and noted the need to fine-tune the legislation so that it’s clear about which actions are allowed — and which are not — while also providing flexibility to make changes easily if needed.


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