A woman in Singapore took to Facebook to recount her experience with a youth sporting the symbol of the German Nazi party.
In a Facebook post on Dec. 17, the woman, surnamed Mitchell, posted that she encountered a 15-year-old boy on the MRT while travelling from Harbourfront to Punggol the day before.
He was wearing a Nazi swastika on his left sleeve (identified by its distinctive colour scheme and orientation of the swastika).
According to Mitchell, he was also wearing another Nazi swastika on his right sleeve, a badge of the Nazi eagle by his zipper, and also one on his mobile phone case.
Mitchell then started a conversation with the youth about displaying the Nazi insignias, adding that she could not remember the entire exchange, but only used quotes when she was "100 per cent sure" of what either of them said.
"Excuse me, are you aware of what you are wearing and what that (symbolises) factually and historically?"
"So, you're a supporter of the Nazi Party?"
"So you support genocide and murder and torture and morally you're completely aligned with the actions they took?"
He then said, "No, I don't support them 100%, I don't agree with everything they did. I get depressed when people think that's all that they did," and then made an attempt to explain what "good" the Nazis did.
Honestly, given we were on a train and that he was wearing a mask, I didn't hear a single thing that he said. But no one and nothing can justify the actions of the Nazis.
Mitchell added that she asked if he understood that he was wearing a hate symbol, and that it was inappropriate and unacceptable to be worn in public, or at all.
He didn't reply, and she asked him if he was having conversations with others about what he was wearing. He said he was not.
Mitchell noted that this was, in her view, an example of privilege as he was able to display such symbols without getting harassed or attacked for it. She added that it was upsetting that this was the first time he was confronted about it, as "Singapore is a not a confrontational society."
Mitchell also mentioned that when she posted the story on her Instagram, she had people of various ages and educational backgrounds telling her that the use of the swastika in Singapore is innocent, even though the youth was displaying an obvious Nazi swastika.
Mitchell asked how old the youth was, and he said he was 15.
She asked if he thought it was okay to display such symbols and try to justify the actions of the Nazis, who killed millions of civilians and prisoners in the Holocaust in World War 2.
Although he just "kept looking at her silently", she told him to do more research, open his mind to more political parties, and realise just how "absolutely unjustifiable" was his choice to display the swastika.
"After I finished speaking to him, he stood up and said "thank you, I will consider [doing more research]." and left the train," she added.
Police investigation ongoing, but the public should not personally attack a minor
In a Dec. 18 update to her post, Mitchell said that she was contacted by an investigating security officer, a formal report has been made and the matter is being investigated.
Speaking to Mothership, Mitchell confirmed that she was contacted by the police, and there is an ongoing investigation.
She did not make the report herself, but another member of the public did so based on her Facebook post.
Mitchell added that she stands by the thoughts and feelings expressed in her original post.
However, she wanted to add that now the post has been shared and others are commenting, people should keep in mind that the youth is a minor, and this is not an opportunity to attack him personally.
But if he was older, there would be a heavier weight to his actions and much more severe consequences.
Under Section 298A of the Penal Code, it is an offence to knowingly promote enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony, whether by words, signs or visible representations.
Although the post appears to be no longer publicly visible, you can see screenshots below: