New East Digital Archive

Could Heineken be a victim of a Hungarian ban on “totalitarian symbols”?

Could Heineken be a victim of a Hungarian ban on “totalitarian symbols”?
(Image: Alan Turkus under a CC licence)

15 March 2017

On Tuesday a bill was submitted to the Hungarian parliament proposing a ban on using “totalitarian symbols” for commercial purposes. Could beer brand Heineken’s red star be in trouble?

Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén and MP János Lázár, of the governing Fidesz-KDNP alliance, submitted the bill on the grounds that commercial use of the symbols lends them “a kind of legitimacy”.

If the proposed law is passed, the swastika, arrow cross (the symbol of the Hungarian Fascist movement), hammer and sickle, and red star would be banned for commercial use 30 days after the law is signed. Any company found to be violating the ban after 1 January 2018 would be liable to face criminal charges.

Local media have speculated that beer giant Heineken may be forced to change its logo, which features a five-pointed red star, for products sold in Hungary.

“For the moment we are not in a position to comment [...],” Heineken Hungary said in a statement to the Budapest Business Journal.

A number of post-Soviet states and members of the former Eastern Bloc have undergone, or are undergoing, a process of decommunisation, which in some cases involves a ban on communist symbols. Among the most discussed in recent years is that of Ukraine, which began a formal decommunisation process in April 2015. In December last year, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced a possible ban on all totalitarian symbols, including the red star.

Source: Budapest Business Journal