Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

Swiss Court Rules Nazi Salute Not Always Illegal

No longer a punishable criminal offense if used as a personal statement

Print Email
German nazi Chancellor Adolf Hitler and his army parade in Prague on March 15, 1939, the day of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Wehrmacht. (-/AFP/Getty Images)

The Nazi salute, outlawed as a criminal offense in countries like Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, remains a thorny legal issue in other European countries. In Switzerland, a 1995 anti-racism law criminalized the use of racist symbols in promoting discriminatory ideologies. But yesterday a Swiss court ruled that the symbol isn’t in fact a criminal offense if it’s used as a personal statement, the Associated Press reports.

The Federal Tribunal’s ruling, titled “Hitler salute in public not always punishable,” said the gesture is a crime only if someone is using it to try to spread racist ideology to others, not simply declaring one’s own conviction.

It seems to be a rather small technicality, considering the instantaneous associations most people presumably make upon seeing a Nazi salute being performed. While I’ll leave it to legal scholars to debate the various implications of the ruling, I do wonder what this means for other controversial symbols like the quenelle, the nebulous reverse Nazi salute newly popularized in France, which got a 28-year-old man a $4,130 fine from a French court last month.

I also wonder whether the New York City taxi driver suspended for wearing a Nazi armband while operating his cab would, under the terms of the new Swiss law, be considered to be making a solely personal statement.

Previous: French Court Issues Fine Over Quenelle Salute
Related: Despicable Meme: Why the Quenelle Is the Grumpy Cat of Anti-Semites

Print Email

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Swiss Court Rules Nazi Salute Not Always Illegal

No longer a punishable criminal offense if used as a personal statement

More on Tablet:

To the Students for Justice in Palestine, a Letter From an Angry Black Woman

By Chloe Valdary — ‘You do not have the right to invoke my people’s struggle for your shoddy purposes’