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In which countries is it illegal to perform the Nazi salute?

Giving the infamous gesture in some parts of Europe can land the perpetrator behind bars

Alexander Sehmer
Monday 20 July 2015 17:28 BST
In a number of countries giving the Nazi salute is a criminal offence
In a number of countries giving the Nazi salute is a criminal offence (Getty)

The Nazi salute is short-hand for fascism, and in a number of countries performing it can see the perpetrator end up behind bars.

Following The Sun's release over the weekend of footage from the 1930s in which the Queen is seen as a child giving the Nazi salute, here are the countries where making the infamous gesture is a criminal offence.

Germany and Austria

Laws against giving the Nazi salute or displaying Nazi symbols were passed shortly after the end of the Second World War.

Giving the Nazi salute in Germany could result in a six-month prison sentence.

In 2011 a 30-year-old Canadian tourist was arrested after he was photographed giving the Nazi salute outside the Reichstag, the German parliament building, in Berlin. He got off with a fine and several hours in police custody.

In Austria, where the anti-Nazi Prohibition Act prohibits giving the Nazi salute, police in Vienna were strongly criticised for their slow response when members of the group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) apparently gave the Nazi salute at a demonstration in February this year.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic

The Nazi salute is also banned in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia having been under Nazi occupation during the Second World War.

Those convicted could face up to five years in jail, but the restrictions are harder to enforce. In order to secure a conviction the authorities must prove the person giving the salute had the intention of promoting an extremist ideology.

In 2014 a change to the law in Slovakia meant the police can now pursue a lower order offence against those giving the Nazi salute, making it easier to secure a conviction, but resulting in a fine rather than a prison sentence.

Switzerland and Sweden

There are restrictions on giving the Nazi salute in Switzerland and Sweden, where giving the gesture is classified as a hate crime.

But in 2014 the Swiss supreme court ruled that making the gesture did not break the country's anti-racism law if the person giving it was only expressing their own convictions.

Making the gesture in a bid to promote racist ideology to others, though, is still a criminal offence.

In most cases those convicted have been handed fines rather than sentenced to time in jail.

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