The Violence of Symbols

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The state of Victoria passed a bill this week to ban the display of swastikas, the first Australian state to do so amid an increase in cases of violent nationalist and racist extremism, CBS News reported.

Under the new legislation, anyone who intentionally shows the symbol – long associated with the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler – could face a year in jail or a $22,000 fine. Also, violators will be only prosecuted if they deny a request to remove the symbol.

It will take effect in six months.

State officials said the legislation “sends the strongest possible message that this vile behavior won’t be tolerated.”

While Victoria has anti-hate speech laws, critics say there are a lot of “gaps” in the legislation. The local community began to advocate for stricter rules in 2020 when a couple erected a swastika flag over their home.

Worldwide, antisemitism has been on the rise, according to The Anti-Semitism Worldwide Report 2021 by the Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry.

In Australia, more than 440 incidents were recorded in 2021, marking a 35 percent increase from the previous year: Abuse, harassment, vandalism and the appearance of antisemitic posters have all increased. In May 2021, 88 incidents were recorded during the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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