Germany: Bundestag debates criminalising vilification of EU, foreign countries' symbols

The German Parliament debated a draft bill seeking a change in the criminal code that enables criminal prosecution of the vilification of symbols of the European Union and foreign countries, including flags and anthems in Berlin on Wednesday. «This is about defending the values behind this. And what are the values standing behind the Black-Red-Gold and the Europe flag? This is about democracy... Еще, this is about freedom, this is about constitutionality and the longest period of peace we ever had in Europe,' said Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union's (CDU/CSU) MP Ingmar Jung. Other MPs argued that the burning of a country's flag does not intrinsically endanger democracy. «To restrict the freedom of speech and the freedom of art by criminal law in favour of the authority of the sovereign power of this construct [the EU], this is out of question for us,'' said Alternative for Germany's (AfD) MP Fabian Jacobi. Representatives of the six parties shared their positions on this issue, before the Vice President of the Bundestag Thomas Oppermann transferred this topic to the committee for a more detailed discussion. Debate around the topic of legally protecting not only EU member states' flags and anthems was sparked in 2017 when an Israeli flag was burned at a demonstration in Berlin after the US moved their embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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