German court fines seller of anti-neo Nazi shirts
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German court fines seller of anti-neo Nazi shirts

The products included anti-neo Nazi t-shirts and badges which bore the infamous swastika symbol.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2006 22:48 IST

A German judge on Friday fined the seller of a range of anti-neo Nazi t-shirts and badges because the products bear the infamous swastika symbol -- with a large red line through it.

The logo -- a red circle with a line across it superimposed on the Nazi emblem -- is a popular image among left-wing activists and anti-neo Nazi campaigners in Germany and can be purchased on lapel-pins and items of clothing.

However, Wolfgang Kuellmer, a Stuttgart judge, ruled on Friday that its increasing popularity risked making the Nazi hooked cross acceptable again in Germany, over 60 years after it was outlawed following Hitler's defeat.

"In particular this mass market business risked undermining its taboo status," Kuellmer said.

Under German law, performing a Hitler salute, wearing Nazi uniform or displaying the swastika can carry a penality of a fine or up to three years in prison.

The 32-year-old distributor, who ran a mail order service and website, was fined 3,600 euros. The judge ordered the seizure of 16,500 pieces of merchandise, two palettes of brochures and around 8,400 publicity flyers bearing the logo.

Green party member of parliament, Claudia Roth, herself once investigated by the Stuttgart authorities for wearing an anti-Nazi lapel pin, said the ruling was unjustified.

"This ruling is scandalous," she said. "It is a form of autism which completely ignores the real problems of right wing extremism, anti-semitism and racism in this country."

The logo, reminiscent of that used in the 1984 film Ghostbusters, is often seen at anti neo-Nazi rallies such as those held to protest against the far-right National Democrat Party's (NPD) election gains in recent regional polls in the formerly communist east of the country.

The NPD's gains renewed calls from some politicians to consider banning the party, which has been likened to Hitler's embryonic Nazi party.

First Published: Sep 29, 2006 22:48 IST