Australia’s Victoria state advances ban on swastika display amid neo-Nazi surge

Legislation barring Nazi imagery expected to be passed by parliament early next year, as officials warn of increase in radicalization of youth

A Nazi flag is seen flying in the town of Beulah, in southeastern Australia. (Courtesy via JTA)
A Nazi flag is seen flying in the town of Beulah, in southeastern Australia. (Courtesy via JTA)

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s Victoria state is drafting legislation that would make it the first in the country to ban the public display of Nazi symbols, as local neo-Nazi activity increases.

The proposed ban on Nazi symbols such as the swastika — except for educational or historical purposes — will be presented to parliament early next year, and appears certain to become law with opposition lawmakers expressing support.

The law was recommended by a parliamentary inquiry earlier this year that cited a recent rise in neo-Nazi activity in Australia’s second-most populous state.

“This announcement is a resounding triumph for the victims of the Holocaust, the survivors and our brave diggers (Australian soldiers) who died to vanquish the evil Third Reich regime, and a defeat of homegrown neo-Nazis who seek to keep Hitler’s legacy alive,” said Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, a Jewish-Australian community organization.

Counter-terror intelligence chief Mike Burgess warned last month that Australians as young as 16 were being radicalized to support a white-power race war, and that half of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization’s most important domestic anti-terrorism cases now involve neo-Nazi cells and other ideologically motivated groups.

Burgess, director-general of ASIO, told media the shift in the national security threat away from religiously motivated terrorism was being fueled by disinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and other global events.

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