Last Updated on May 17, 2020
Germany is set to criminalize burning of the European Union’s flag, with offenders facing up to three years behind bars if convicted.
The shift in legislation is because flag-burning is not believed to be congruent with peaceful protest.
The move to criminalize burning the EU flag also comes after protesters in Berlin burned the Israeli flag.
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According to the German penal code, there are protections in place forbidding the defilement or deliberate damage of symbols of certain countries which enjoy cordial diplomatic relations with Germany.
However, due to legal loopholes, right-wing and populist protesters have staged protests where the unprotected EU flag has been burned.
The legislation also extends to the EU’s anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, reported The BBC.
Public display of Nazi memorabilia or flags is illegal in Germany.
It is currently illegal to burn the Israeli flag in Germany. Johannes Fechner, legal policy spokesman for the Social Democratic Party (SPD), according to DW, said: “In Germany, the Israeli flag is not allowed to be burned.”
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Additionally, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht remarked: “burning flags in public has nothing to do with peaceful protest.”
She went onto suggest that the goal of flag-burning at demonstrations was to “stir up hatred, anger and aggression,” and people’s feelings could get hurt.
All but one German party voted in favor of the proposal to closed up the pre-existing loophole excluding protections for the EU flag.
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Alternative for Germany argued that the new legislation contravened “freedom of expression” and artistic creativity.
Several European countries have previously banned the desecration of their national flags.