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South Australia to Ban Nazi Symbols and Salutes

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South Australia is set to criminalize the public display of Nazi symbols and gestures as a response to an increase in anti-Semitism and “extremist” behavior in the country.

Anyone caught performing the Nazi salute or showcasing swastikas in public will face fines of up to A$20,000 (US$13,232) or a year in prison, according to South Australia Attorney-General Kyam Maher.

Mr. Maher stated that the bill will impose harsh penalties on those attempting to promote “this abhorrent ideology” and empower the police to remove the prohibited symbols.

He argued that this move is crucial to creating a safe and inclusive environment for the Jewish community in the state, particularly with the growing prevalence of “extremist, hateful behavior” across Australia.

“The very rich diversity and cohesion of our multicultural society in South Australia is one of our greatest strengths, but we need to be careful and vigilant to protect that,” said Mr. Maher at a press conference on Nov. 29.

“This sort of hatred and division has no place in South Australia.”

He also expressed hope that the new law would protect multicultural and ethnic groups from religious discrimination and racist behavior.

Meanwhile, Greg Adams, chair of the Adelaide Holocaust Museum, revealed concerns about staff safety following several anti-Semitism incidents, including individuals displaying Nazi gestures outside the building.

He described anti-Semitism as “a real threat,” noting that staff were “feeling it on the ground.”

According to data collected by the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, anti-Semitism incidents in Australia have risen by 591 percent this year.

At the same time, a new survey (pdf) conducted at over 33 Australian universities found that 57 percent of Jewish students reported concealing their Jewish identity at school, while 64 percent of students reported experiencing at least one anti-Semitic incident at their universities.

The survey, commissioned by the Zionist Federation of Australia, indicated that an overwhelming majority (85 percent) of anti-Semitic incidents go unreported because students did not believe the institutions would take the incidents seriously.

Holocaust survivor Andrew Steiner praised the new legislation, remarking that there are “unfortunate, concerning cracks” that have appeared in Australia’s society.

“We are an extraordinarily successful multicultural, homogeneous society,” he said in Adelaide on Nov. 29, as reported by news.com.au.

Currently, Northern Territory and Western Australia are the last states yet to introduce some form of ban on Nazi gestures and symbols.

Federal Government Outlaw Nazi Symbols

The announcement came as the federal government passed laws banning the Nazi salute in the Lower House with bipartisan support.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the amendments, made under counter-terrorism laws, help draw a line in the sand on glorifying hatred.

“The amendments will ensure that no one will be allowed to glorify or profit from acts and symbols which celebrate the Nazis and their evil ideology,” he said.

“There is absolutely no place in Australia for hatred, violence, and anti-Semitism.”

The legislation initially included a ban on the Islamic State flag but was later removed.

Other swastikas used by other religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism will not be subject to the ban.

Co-chief executive of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim supported the laws.

“A ban on the public display of the symbols of any proscribed terrorist organization is also timely, as is the ban on trading in goods bearing Nazi and other prohibited symbols,” he said.

“Only time will tell how these matters will impact the effectiveness of the legislation, but overall the bill is a major step forward.”

AAP contributed to this report.



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