Austria bans hidden Islamist and Nazi codes on license plates
The daily Kleine Zeitung reports that yesterday an amendment came into effect in Austria banning the use of hidden Nazi codes on personalized license plates. The original list of banned abbreviations such as HJ (for the youth organization Hitlerjugend), NSDAP (for the Nazi party) and SS (for the elite Nazi fighting unit) was expanded to include, for example, the number 420, which references April 20th, Hitler's birthday.
The National Council, one of the chambers of the Austrian Parliament, approved the amendment unanimously in mid-June. The law had previously also banned defamatory or derogatory combinations of letters and numbers on personalized license plates.
Among the more than 30 newly-banned codes used by the ultra-right scene are the numbers 18, 88 and 1919, which refer to the letters of the alphabet that begin the name Adolf Hitler (AH = 18), the Nazi greeting Heil Hitler (HH = 18) and the SS organization (SS = 1919). The other banned combinations of letters are FG for Führers Geburtstag (the Führer's birthday) or WP for White Power.
"There is no place in our society for Nazi ideology. In this area, nothing is trivial," Austrian Transportation Minister Alois Stöger said today.
The banned abbreviations, however, do not just concern the neo-Nazi scene, but also radical Islamists. Personalized license plates will not be able to feature, for example, the abbreviations IS or ISIS, referring to the self-declared Islamic State organization, which currently controls an extensive area from Iraq to Syria.
The list of abbreviations and codes was produced for the authorities by the Mauthausen Committee in Austria, which represents former prisoners of that Nazi concentration camp. The Committee will be updating the list over time.
The measures targeting extremism, however, only concern newly-issued licenses; the existing ones will expire 15 years from their date of issue. More than half a million people in Austria have requested personalized license plates in general.
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