Hezbollah and Syrian flags are seen fluttering in Fleita, Syria August 2, 2017.
(photo credit: OMAR SANADIKI/REUTERS)
Austria’s conservative government plans to impose a ban of Islamic extremist symbols from the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas. The ban is scheduled to go into effect in March.
Austrian media reported this past week that the government’s ban will be expanded to include symbols of Turkey’s ultra-radical nationalist Grey Wolves, the Kurdistan Workers Party, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Croatian fascist movement Ustasha.
The Alpine state currently prohibits symbols associated with al-Qaeda and Islamic State, including groups affiliated with these Sunni terrorist movements. Violations of the law against proscribed symbols from terrorist organizations can result in a 4,000-euro penalty, wrote the paper Der Standard, adding that a repeat offense can mean a 10,000-euro fine. The paper said the list of banned symbols has not yet been published by the government and will be announced in the next few weeks or months. Austria also bans symbols associated with the National Socialists.
The Wiener Zeitung paper said the ban of Hezbollah symbols would apply to Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, the group’s so-called military wing. In 2013, the European Union merely proscribed the brigades for being a terrorist organization. Hezbollah’s leadership, however, considers itself to be a unified organization without divisions into military and political wings. The EU ban of Hezbollah’s military wing was prompted by a Hezbollah terrorist attack on an Israeli tour bus in 2012 that resulted in the deaths of five Israelis and their Bulgarian Muslim bus driver.
In 2016, the Berlin state senate said the flying at the annual pro-Iranian regime al-Quds rally in Berlin of the Hezbollah flag, depicting a raised assault rifle, amounts to “incitement to hate.” Hezbollah symbols have been outlawed only at the yearly al-Quds rallies, which routinely call for Israel’s destruction. According to German intelligence reports reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, there are 950 active Hezbollah members in the federal republic who raise money for the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist entity and recruit members. There are 320 Hamas members in Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration has steadfastly refused to ban all of Hezbollah in Germany.
It is unclear how many Hezbollah and Hamas members operate in Austria. The new 2018 Austria intelligence report did not cite the number of Hamas and Hezbollah members in that central European country. The EU, the US, Austria and Germany classify Hamas’s entire organization as a terrorist group.
The US, Israel, the Arab League, Canada and the Netherlands designated Hezbollah’s entire organization a terrorist movement.
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