No Flying the “Stars and Stripes”? Danish Justice Weighs Old Law

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Danish flags are seen hung in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 30, 2022.

COPENHAGEN (AFP-Jiji) — Can a Dane fly the flag of a foreign country? Denmark’s Supreme Court will examine the case of a family convicted for displaying the flag of the United States, judicial authorities said Friday.

The case concerns the validity of a law dating back to 1915 that prohibits Danes from flying flags other than that of the Scandinavian country, an ordinance meant to preserve its neutrality during World War I.

One morning in June 2017, the Hedegard family was surprised to see the police at their door in a residential area of Kolding, a city in western Denmark.

After months of complaints from a neighbor furious at seeing the “Stars and Stripes” floating above their home, police demanded its removal or face a fine of 2,500 kroner (about €330).

“I thought I had seen enough of it, and it was too much,” the neighbor told the local press.

But the family continued to hoist the US flag, citing their “American culture.”

“I could understand if it were a Nazi or Islamic State flag. But an American flag, I can’t understand at all,” Rikke Hedegard told local newspaper JydskeVestkysten.

The family was ordered to stand trial for violating the 1915 ordinance, with prosecutors citing a similar case from 1934 concerning a Soviet flag that determined the rule was also valid in peacetime.

The Hedegards were acquitted but later convicted on appeal, though no sentence was imposed given the length of the judicial procedures.