Most American and British people say displaying the ISIS flag and Nazi swastika should be banned – but Americans are less likely to think so
Britain lacks constitutional free speech protections, like America’s First Amendment, but it has refrained from outlawing the display of politically and religiously offensive symbols such as the Nazi swastika. Boris Johnson recently defended this approach, suggesting it should not be illegal to display the ISIS flag because Britain is a “free country”. This puts the London Mayor at odds with David Cameron, who claimed last year that anyone walking around with an ISIS flag “will be arrested and the materials will be seized”. The Prime Minister will tomorrow use a speech to outline his five-year plan to "destroy the caliphate" in Syria and Iraq.
New YouGov research in Britain and the US finds very little public opposition to banning the ISIS flag or Nazi swastika. British people are highly supportive of doing so (at least three in four people say both should be banned), while Americans are slightly more in line with their constitution. Still, 63% say the ISIS flag should be banned and 57% say the swastika should.
In both countries, older age groups and supporters of right-leaning parties are more likely to support banning these symbols.
In the wake of a white supremacist attack on a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, YouGov has found American public opinion turning against flying the confederate flag in public places. The battle emblem of the southern states who supported slavery in the US Civil War has now been removed from the capitol grounds in South Carolina, and 30% of Americans even say it should be banned.
Some European countries with a more direct connection to controversial symbols have shown less reservation in outlawing them. In Germany the use of Nazi insignia is banned outright, while the sale of Nazi-related memorabilia is barred in France. In April, during the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, its Parliament voted to ban Soviet as well as Nazi symbols, and in 2009 Poland also imposed restrictions on communist symbols.