German Movie Director Investigated for Wearing a Swastika | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 07.08.2006

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German Movie Director Investigated for Wearing a Swastika

German police is investigating the case of German-Turkish movie director Fatih Akin who was seen last week wearing a T-shirt with a swastika on it in protest to the policies of US President George W. Bush.

Fatih Akin said the symbol on his T-shirt Also could not be misconstrued

Fatih Akin said the symbol on his T-shirt Also could not be misconstrued

A police spokeswoman in the German city of Hamburg confirmed on Sunday that German-Turkish movie director Fatih Akin was currently under investigation by the authorities for use of "unconstitutional symbols."

The 32-year-old director -- whose 2004 hit movie "Head On" was the first German film to win the Berlin Festival's top prize in 17 years and later same year earned him the European Film Award -- got into trouble after he was seen last week wearing a T-shirt with the last name of United States President George W. Bush written on it.

Demonstration gegen George Bush in Mainz

US President Bush has many opponents in Germany

While it is not illegal to wear the name of the US president stamped across your chest in Germany, the director's fashion statement with political implications consisted of a single four-letter word -- Bush -- in which the letter "s" was written in the form of a swastika.

"Bush's policies are comparable to those of the Third Reich," Akin told the German weekly Der Spiegel. "I believe that films are being produced in Hollywood on behalf of the Pentagon in order to normalize things such as torture and Guantanamo."

Since using or displaying Nazi regalia and other "unconstitutional symbols" is forbidden in Germany, Akin's political statement could get him a prison sentence of up to three years.

A political protest

Akin, who many hold to be among the most talented and successful young German movie directors, said he believes his T-shirt was not merely a provocation.

Fatih Akin gewinnt mit seinem Flim Gegen die Wand Goldenen Bären in Berlin

Akin said the shirt was to protest Bush's policies

"The Bush administration is out there looking for a Third World War, I'm convinced about it," he said. "In my mind, they are the fascists."

There are exceptions under the German law which allow the use of swastikas for artistic and educational purposes and if its use is clearly in a form indicating opposition to National Socialism.

The police, however, had to initiate an investigation after a man, who saw the picture of Akin wearing the contested T-shirt in a newspaper, decided to press charges.

"You have to look into the context," Akin said. "The swastika is not there on its own, but as part of the word, 'Bush.' One would have to be pretty stupid, not to understand that."

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