Hindus for Human Rights has advised the Victorian Government caution when banning the public display of Nazi symbols.
In a statement released today, Hindus for Human Rights Australia and New Zealand has applauded the Victorian Government’s decision to make the public display of Nazi symbols illegal, but advised caution about inadvertently targeting Hindus.
The advocacy organisation that seeks to provide a platform for progressive Hindus to speak out in support of democratic freedoms and pluralism said in their statement, “Recent anti-Semitic incidents have used Nazi imagery to target Jewish Australians, and a ban on hateful imagery would help diverse Victorians feel safe in their communities. However, HfHR is concerned that without specific language exempting the Hindu Swastika from scrutiny, Hindus could inadvertently become a target of these new laws.”
Clarifying that the Hindu ‘Swastika’ was different from the Nazi symbol ‘Hakenkreuz’ the HfHR statement said, “The word “swastika” means “conducive to well-being” in Sanskrit. While the Swastika was used by the Nazis as a symbol of hate, it was originally used by Hindus as a symbol of prosperity and good luck, and Hindus continue to use the symbol to represent the faith today. Buddhists also consider the symbol to be sacred, representing the footprints of Buddha. Swastikas are often present on the doorsteps of homes, and people often wear the swastika on jewellery for good luck. The Hindu swastika and Nazi Hakenkreuz also look completely different.”
Cautioning that, “Most Hindu Australians are aware of the history of the Holocaust and the implications of the Swastika in Western society and do not generally display the symbol in public. However, for Hindus, the outright banning of this symbol is hurtful, saying a beautiful symbol of faith, stolen in the name of genocide, is inherently evil. Under these new laws, Hindus may also risk facing significant fines and jail time. For people who have recently immigrated and are unfamiliar with the Nazi swastika, this law could cause particularly dangerous consequences.”, HfHR said, “HfHR recommends that any statutes, policies, or other legal documents created to ban Nazi imagery create an exemption for the Hindu Swastika. Guidance to enforcement agencies must also explain the difference between the Nazi and Hindu swastikas to avoid inadvertent targeting of the Hindu community.