Monday, July 23, 2012

Debating the swastika

The swastika is an ancient symbol that was used by many cultures around the world.

The swastika has become a very controversial symbol in recent history. In the decades after the Second World War, it has become to be known as a symbol of tyranny and hatred. Before Hitler and the Nazis came to power, the swastika was actually a positive symbol that represented light, fire and the universe. Many cultures around the world have used the swastika as a symbol of good luck. Swastikas can be seen on ancient architecture, pottery and artworks throughout history.

The YouTube video below shows the interesting debate that is going on regarding the meaning of the swastika. In Lithuania, the swastika is a banned symbol of tyranny which is illegal to use. Interestingly, it existed in Lithuanian culture far before the Nazis came to power. The symbol can actually be seen today in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania.

Hungary has also banned the use of totalitarian symbols in public. The use of both fascist and communist symbols is now punishable by law in Hungary. There was a recent case in Hungary in which a man used the communist hammer and sickle in public. He was charged and fined by the Hungarian courts but he appealed to the European Court in Strasbourg. The European Court ruled in favour of the Hungarian communist overruling the Hungarian courts and trumping Hungarian law. This caused a lot of recent controversy in Hungary as the European Union frowns upon the use of Nazi symbols but supports the use of communist symbols.

A decision by a Lithuanian court back in 2010 caused a lot of controversy as it ruled that students using the swastika in public used it as a historical symbol. These students were apart of a movement that sought to show the positive historical significance of the symbol. The judge saw that there was no malicious intent in their actions and acquitted the students. Watch the video and come to your own conclusion on the use of this symbol.