Soccer fans leaving Friday night’s blockbuster at the MCG have been left shocked after a man sporting a Nazi swastika on his hat was spotted at a busy Melbourne train station.
The “terrifying” sighting has prompted a leading civil rights organization to renew calls to ban the distressing symbol.
A 23-year-old Jewish man took a photograph of the hat at Richmond train station about 10.30pm last Friday when most people boarding the train were heading home from the clash between Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs.
Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich, who has led a three-year campaign to ban public displays of the swastika, described the incident as terrifying. “If the state government does not put an end to this sickening and escalating crisis right now, Victoria may become known as the swastika state instead of the garden state,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
“From the special spot in hell reserved for such monsters, Hitler must be smiling, knowing that his followers are continuing his destructive legacy.”
Dr Abramovich said no one could feel safe while such incidents continued to happen. “We should not have to wait until white supremacists organise a rally and march down Swanston Street waving Nazi flags before acting,” he said.
“Our city is being invaded by these agents of hate, by these ‘Final Solutionists’ who are spitting in our faces and who have no fear of proudly exhibiting this evil emblem, which represents the extermination of millions, knowing full well that the law is on their side.”
Dr Abramovich has renewed his push for the state government to pass laws banning public displays of Nazi ideology.
Earlier this month, a Victorian parliamentary committee recommended the same, saying there had been an increase in public displays of Nazi symbolism and racially motivated incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report said it was “important to send a clear message to the community that Nazi symbolism is not acceptable in any form and has wide-ranging, negative societal impacts”.
Premier Daniel Andrews has indicated the government would support outlawing Nazi symbols.