TWO Chinese tourists learned the hard way that it is illegal to perform the Nazi salute in Germany after they were arrested for raising the Sieg Hailing outside parliament in Berlin on Saturday.
According to the BBC, the duo is faced with criminal proceedings for using banned symbols from the outlawed fascist organisation.
If convicted, the two men, aged 36 and 49, could be slapped with a fine or a prison sentence of up to three years. Police said the pair have been released on EUR500 (US$600) each.
The charges that the tourists face were usually used to prosecute right wing hardliners.
Citing a report by AFP, the BBC quoted a police spokeswoman as saying the men could leave the country during the investigation. If a fine is handed to them, the bail money would likely cover for it, the spokeswoman said.
A report in The New York Times said the two were whisked away in police vehicles after they were spotted making the Nazi salute while snapping photos of each other outside the Reichtag, Germany’s lower house of Parliament.
Demonstrating its non-tolerance towards the former Nazi regime, Germany enacts strict laws concerning hate speech, particularly when cases are linked to famed Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and his party.
Like many European countries, Germany is a choice destination for Chinese tourists who arrive in the country by the millions every year. Although anti-hate speech laws are commonplace in Europe, it is uncertain whether visitors from China are well-versed on the sensitivities of the European countries they visit.
According to the Mercator Institute for China Studies, a research foundation based in Berlin, the number of Chinese tourists to Germany swelled above two million in 2014. By 2020, tourist organizations say a projected 2.2 million Chinese visitors are expected to visit Germany.
The volume of Chinese tourists has surged since China put the European Union on its list of approved countries, with many from the mainland taking advantage of direct flights to shop and sight-see in the continent.
However, the rise in Chinese tourists to European destinations as well as other places throughout the globe is not welcomed by all owing to culture clashes and common courtesy, according to the NYT.