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Australia moves to ban Nazi hate symbols in public

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia yesterday announced it will ban the public display of Nazi symbols, as the country wrestles with a small but increasingly brazen fringe of right-wing extremists.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the government would introduce new laws criminalising the display and sale of Nazi insignia, such as the Hakenkreuz swastika and the SS lightning bolt.

Intelligence officials have warned that growing numbers of Australians are being drawn towards neo-Nazi ideologies, as extremist groups step up efforts to recruit new members.

“There is no place in Australia for symbols that glorify the horrors of the Holocaust,” said Dreyfus.

“And we will no longer allow people to profit from the display and sale of items which celebrate the Nazis and their evil ideology.”

The legislation will be presented to Parliament next week and is expected to pass with opposition support.

Australian spy boss Mike Burgess last month said fringe cells of Australian neo-Nazis appeared to be growing increasingly bold, after a group of balaclava-clad men clashed with crowds at rally in Melbourne.

“It’s a sign that those groups are more emboldened and able to come out publicly in their recruitment – to push what they believe in and recruit to their cause,” he told a Senate hearing.

“We have seen a rise in people drawn to this ideology, for reasons we don’t fully understand.”

Australia’s national security agency has said that right-wing extremists make up around 30 per cent of the country’s counter-terrorism caseload.

A swastika flag is displayed for sale at a store at the Gladstone Harbour Festival in central Queensland, Australia. PHOTO: AP
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