A nationwide ban on the Nazi salute and insignia would help prevent far-right radicalisation, Asio says

A nationwide ban on the Nazi salute and insignia would help prevent far-right radicalisation, Asio says

A nationwide ban on the Nazi salute and insignia would help prevent far-right radicalisation, Asio says

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Australia’s domestic intelligence agency Asio has welcomed a coalition bill to ban Nazi symbols, including the Sieg Heil salute, telling a parliamentary inquiry it would help prevent recruitment and radicalization by extremists far right.

The bill was introduced by shadow attorney general Michaelia Cash just days after a group of men from the Nationalist Socialist Network repeatedly saluted on the steps of parliament in Victoria last month.

In response to that event, the Victorian government announced it would move to ban the salute within months. Cash argued that similar action was urgently required at the federal level, even as senior cabinet members argued that a parliamentary inquiry should investigate the proposal.

In its presentation, the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (Asio) said racist groups were using extremist symbols to raise their profile and recruit new members. He said possession of extremist materials had been the subject of many prosecutions for terrorism offences.

“THE [bill] it would help law enforcement to intervene in a timely manner,” said Asio’s presentation.

Related: Asio will go wherever there is a threat of terrorism, despite the low number of right-wing groups listed

“Extremist banners [are] an effective propaganda tool because they are easy to remember and understand. They can also transcend linguistic, cultural and ethnic divisions; creating, distributing and understanding them is not limited to a select few or one cultural or linguistic group.

Some terrorism experts, including Lydia Khalil of the Lowy Institute, have argued that the ban could be counterproductive and provide neo-Nazi groups with more opportunities for provocation and propaganda.

Earlier this year, Asio director general Mike Burgess said ideologically motivated violent extremism — mostly nationalist and racist violent extremism — accounted for about 30 percent of the agency’s priority workload. . It had peaked at a 50:50 split with religiously motivated extremism years earlier.

“While we remain concerned about ideologically motivated violent extremism, we assess that the vast majority of these extremists are more likely to focus on recruitment and radicalization rather than planning attacks in the foreseeable future,” Asio’s presentation said.

“Our greatest concern remains the threat of lone individuals or small cells who could mobilize for violence and/or sabotage with little or no warning.”

The New South Wales Civil Liberties Council welcomed the bill but said it was a “symbolic at best” response to Nazi ideology and expressed concerns about its implementation. He said any decision to prosecute should be made by the director of prosecutors and not the police.

“We believe this is a problem and could open the state to unnecessary criticism from far-right extremists for acting oppressively in a non-transparent manner,” the council presentation said.

The Online Hate Prevention Institute, a charity focused on Holocaust denial and far-right extremism, said the federal government should not shift responsibility to states and territories.

“Preventing Australia from becoming a haven for the use of symbols belonging to foreign neo-Nazi groups is a Commonwealth responsibility and relevant to our position in the international community,” the report said.

Hindu groups also support the legislation but have urged the government to ensure religious groups are not prosecuted for displaying symbols that look similar to the Nazi swastika.

“The proposed legislation is critical to ensuring that our democratic and multicultural values ​​are not eroded, while also protecting our minority communities,” the Hindu Council of Australia’s presentation said.

“The Nazi regime misappropriated the sacred symbol of the swastika as a symbol of hatred.”

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