Germany criminalises the burning of foreign flags

Germany criminalises the burning of foreign flags
Protesters burn an EU flag in Brussels, Belgium. Burning the EU flag will now be illegal in Germany. Photo: JOHN THYS / AFP
German parliament on Thursday made the burning of foreign flags a criminal offence, with a possible jail term of up to three years.

In addition to flags of foreign countries, the flag of the European Union will also be included on the list. 

The law previously protected only the flag and other state symbols of Germany, however the protection has now been extended to flags of foreign nations and the EU. 

The law was passed with almost unanimous support from all German political parties, other than the far-right Alternative For Germany, who felt that the law would infringe too severely upon the freedom of expression of its citizens.

German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) said the new law wasn’t a restriction on democracy or the right to protest, but was instead a symbol of hatred, anger and aggression. 

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See also on The Local:

‘The Israeli flag is not to be burned’

The law was motivated by protesters burning the Israeli flag at a demonstration in the German capital of Berlin at a demonstration in 2017.

Social Democratic Party (SPD) spokesman Johannes Fechner said this week “In Germany, the Israeli flag is not allowed to be burned”. 

READ: Burning of Israeli flags at Berlin demo ‘disgraceful', says interior minister 

In addition to prohibiting the burning of flags, the law also prohibits efforts to “destroy, deface or damage” them. 

Previously, only limited protection was afforded to foreign symbols on the basis of mutual diplomatic relations, however now all foreign flags will be protected.  



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