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Berlin police told to put away German flags

Written by: Staff

BERLIN, June 12 (Reuters) Berlin's police chief has banned the city's 23,000 police officers from flying the German flag during the World Cup, a spokesman said today.

''The reason for this is quite simple. They have to be visible as policemen, not German fans,'' a police spokesman in the German capital said. ''If there are incidents with fans from any countries, the police have to be neutral.'' German fans across the country are displaying the country's black, red and yellow flag on their cars, bikes, windows and elsewhere.

It was not difficult to spot police cars in Berlin sporting the German flag before, during and after Friday's World Cup opening match, in which the hosts beat Costa Rica 4-2.

On Saturday, the police chief ordered all police employees to remove flags and other items with the national colours for the duration of the tournament, which ends on July 9.

German authorities tend to be uneasy about displays of nationalism and patriotic fervour after the country's experience under the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.

Reuters PDS RS1929

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