The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG), the umbrella organization for sixteen Jewish communities in Switzerland, applauded the decision of the Legal Commission of the National Council to support a ban on Nazi symbols.
The National Council, the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland, said on January 12 that it is in favor of tougher action against Nazi symbols. It proposed a "special legal ban on the public use of National Socialist symbols.”
In addition, it supported the parliamentary initiative that would “ban the public use of extremist, violence-glorifying and racist symbols” put forward by National Councillor Angelo Barrile.
SIG noted that the Commission is responding to its call and that of the Platform of Liberal Jews of Switzerland (PLJS). In December, SIG called for the Swiss government to ban Nazi symbols as a first step toward banning all national socialist, racist and extremist symbols.
SIG called for Nazi symbols to be banned as a response to the Swiss Federal Office of Justice’s report examining banning symbols linked to inciting violence or extremism. The report concluded such a ban would be impractical, leading SIG to urge a ban on Nazi symbols as a first step.
The proposed special law is intended to prohibit the public use and dissemination of National Socialist symbols or modifications, SIG explained. This includes flags, badges, emblems, slogans or greetings, but also objects containing such symbols or variations, such as writings, sound and image recordings or illustrations.
SIG applauded the parliamentary initiative for calling for “legal adjustments to criminalize the public use of propaganda material, in particular of National Socialism, which is aimed at the systematic disparagement or defamation of members of a race, ethnicity or religion. The proposal thus also includes Nazi symbols such as the swastika.”
The umbrella organization slammed the current law in Switzerland for only prohibiting swastika flags or the Hitler salute in public if they are used to “actively promote the ideology.”
The SIG added that there is an urgent need for action due to use among like-minded people, even in public, not being punishable. As a result, right-wing extremists and other groups can often appear in public with National Socialist symbols with impunity.
“Such symbols are also misused to accentuate and scandalize political messages,” SIG said. “This is particularly hurtful and incomprehensible for affected minorities.”
Stressing that a special law needs to be passed to ban Nazi symbols, the SIG “welcomed these groundbreaking decisions of the National Council’s Legal Commission, especially the one for a special law against Nazi symbols.”
“With the special law, a clear and comprehensible catalogue of National Socialist symbols can be banned as a first step. An extension to other symbols in the future is not excluded. In this way, the Commission avoids the difficult task of having to draw up a comprehensive and conclusive list of racist, violence-glorifying and extremist symbols and takes the path of a step-by-step approach. In a next step, both motions will be dealt with by the Legal Affairs Committee of the Council of States. In the deliberations in the Second Council, it is also crucial that the commission members focus on the essential goal: at a minimum, National Socialist symbols must be banned as a first step.”