Following protests by Hindu groups who say they've used the swastika as a religious symbol for millennia, Germany announced Monday that it has dropped plans to outlaw the sign throughout the European Union.
In Germany, even carrying this sign has led to a conviction in court
Germany, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, still wants to make Holocaust denial illegal throughout the EU to stem racism and xenophobia.
"Public incitement of violence and hatred or the denial or trivialization of genocide with racist or xenophobic motives" should be criminalized EU-wide, German officials said in Brussels on Monday. "But the plan does not include a ban on certain symbols such as swastikas."
The German EU presidency hopes that EU members will come to an agreement on the plan during the meeting in Luxembourg on April 19 and 20.
A similar attempt to make Holocaust denial illegal by Luxembourg in 2005 was blocked by Britain, Denmark and notably Italy, where Silvio Berlusconi's center-right coalition was still in power. The new Italian government under Romano Prodi introduced a national bill over the weekend that would impose jail time for inciting racial hatred.
In Europe, only Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Romania and Spain have laws that specifically target revisionism.
Gay and childless heterosexual German couples seeking to have children by non-traditional means have gained a small victory. If the surrogacy is done abroad, authorities must recognize the couple as the legal parents.
The German Ethics Council says it in principle rejects medically assisted suicide in the case of terminally ill patients. But its recognition of some exceptions to this principle has caused contention.
Authorities in Belarus imposed a 30 percent fee at money exchanges to stop the citizens from buying foreign currency. Belarusians reacted with panic at the plummeting of the Russian ruble.
We may know him best as the devilishly handsome provocateur of films such as "Ocean's Eleven" but Brad Pitt may be about to receive a somewhat more salubrious title - the "Keeper of the German Language" for 2014.