IGNORANCE of the law is no excuse for breaking it. Over the weekend two Chinese tourists were arrested in Germany for photographing themselves making Hitler salutes outside the Reichstag building in Berlin. The country has strict anti-hate laws, which prohibits pro-Nazi symbols and speech. The Chinese pair were released on €500 ($590) bail; police said they could face as much as three years in prison. However, the men were told they were free to leave the country, and that if a fine was handed down at trial, the bail money could be used to cover it.
Gulliver does not intend to get into the rights and wrongs of Germany’s anti-hate laws. (For what it’s worth, he would think the Hitler salute crass, insensitive and insulting while not considering that a high enough bar to curb freedom of expression.) But the incident provides an opportunity to think about the extent to which foreigners should make themselves aware of local laws and sensitivities.
We do not know for certain the Chinese travellers’ motivation for their…Continue reading