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Israel lawmakers approve bill banning use of Nazi symbolism

An Israeli government panel on Monday approved a bill that would make it illegal to use any Nazi symbols, names, or images, including the use of the term "Nazi" and any clothing resembling that worn by prisoners at concentration camps. A government committee approved the bill [Ynetnews report] proposed by Knesset [official website] Member Uri Ariel which would impose a fine up to USD $26,000 and a possible jail sentence of six months. The bill was not approved by the Ministry of Justice, but Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman said the bill will be supported after it is changed to coordinate policies of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Public Security [official websites] in order to avoid infringement on rights to freedom of expression. Nazi symbols will be allowed to be used for educational and historical purposes.

Apart from Israel, Nazi symbolism has been controversial in other countries as well. In 2007, the German Federal Court of Justice ruled Nazi symbols could be used to protest extremism [JURIST report], overturning a prior decision by a state court in Stuttgart. The lower court had ordered Juergen Kamm, who began an Internet company called Nix Gut, to pay a fine of 3,600 euros (US $4,600) for selling T-shirts and badges featuring a swastika surrounded by a red circle and slash. Judge Walter Winkler ruled that for any symbol to be allowed, the anti-Nazi meaning had to be immediately apparent. In 2005, The EU ended consideration of proposals [JURIST report] that would have banned Nazi symbols in the 25-country bloc after it became apparent that member states could not agree on which symbols should be included in the ban.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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