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Protecting our national icons
Luxembourg

Protecting our national icons

14.03.2012 From our online archive
It is the ultimate symbol of dissatisfaction with a country or regime. The image of a flag in flames or being torn to pieces sums up the rage and vitriol felt by many around the world.

It is the ultimate symbol of dissatisfaction with a country or regime. The image of a flag in flames or being torn to pieces sums up the rage and vitriol felt by many around the world.

And, in many countries those who desecrate flags can face hefty punishments, with sentences of up to three years.

Not in Luxembourg though, if a recent flag stealing incident is anything to judge by. On October 8 this year two people were involved in the theft of a Luxembourg flag from outside the House of Deputies (Chambre des Deputés). The pair reportedly hoisted themselves up the pole and unhooked the national flag just as police arrived at the scene.

While the Luxembourg penal code allows the punishment of anyone using the national flag without authorisation, the House of Deputies says that there had been no follow-up to the incident and nor did they plan to toughen the laws on flag desecration.

Flag desecration, which involves damaging a flag through a number of means such as setting fire to it, dragging it along the ground, defacing it, spitting or cutting it, is illegal in a number of European countries, including Germany, Denmark and Portugal.

The legality in Luxembourg was raised in a Parliamentary question posed by deputy Fernand Kartheiser, who asked if the government planned to implement measures to better protect national symbols such as the flag.

Responding to the query, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said the government did not intend to go further by criminalising such practices.