Australia bans Hamas, ISIS symbols

T-shirts or flags bearing Hamas insignia in Australia can now land violators in jail for up to one year.

By Susan Tawil, World Israel News

A new ban on the display of Hamas symbols and other terrorist insignia went into effect in Australia Monday.

Last month, the Australian Parliament unanimously passed a counter-terrorism law prohibiting the public display of terrorist symbols.

This includes Nazi symbols such as swastikas or the SS lightning bolt insignia on flags, t-shirts, armbands, protest placards, etc.

The law also prohibits buying and selling Nazi memorabilia, in stores or on-line, and outlaws the performance of Nazi salutes.

Symbols associated with ISIS, Hamas, and other officially recognized terror organizations are included in the ban as well. The law went into effect on Monday, and carries with it a prison sentence of up to a year, and a fine up to $27,500.

The law was first proposed in June, triggered by an increase in far-right extremism in Australia. The tipping point came when a group of neo-Nazis performed the Nazi salute on the steps of the State Parliament in Melbourne last March.

Since the October 7 terror attack on Israel, with Hamas’ savage murders of 1,200 and wounding of thousands of Israeli civilians, there has been a meteoric rise in violent anti-Semitism in Australia.

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The Executive Council of Australia Jewry reported 662 anti-Semitic incidents in October and November, relative to five incidents in that same period the previous year. The Council’s co-CEO Alex Ryvchin welcomed the new legislation, saying that the Jewish community was feeling “deeply anxious, concerned, and vulnerable.”

Dr. Bren Carlill, Public Affairs Director of the Zionist Federation of Australia, said that groups use the symbols “to intimidate the Jewish community in Australia.” He says that the symbols are used as recruitment tools to radicalize others, and hopes that the new law will inhibit the rise of these groups. “This legislation sends a strong message that hatred has no place in Australia today,” he stated.

Assistant Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Krissy Barrett said that it will be a “challenge” to prosecute violators of the law, especially those performing the Hitler salute. Attorney General Mark Dreyfus feels that the legislation will be a deterrent to hate groups. “There is no place in Australia for acts and symbols that glorify the horrors of the Holocaust and terrorist acts,” he said. “It’s such an important moment in Australia and Australian legislation.”

Exemptions of the banned symbols are allowed for educational, scientific, artistic purposes, as is the use of the swastika by Hindus and Buddhists, for whom it is a religious symbol.