Last month, a man was arrested in the Philippines for failing to stand up during the national anthem, Filipino broadcaster GMA reported.
According to GMA, 20-year-old Bayle Einstein Gonzales allegedly refused to rise for the national anthem when it was played at a theatre in the province of Pampanga.
Filipino diplomat Elmer Cato, who happened to be in the same cinema, reportedly asked Gonzales to stand for the anthem twice. Gonzales did not comply. Cato then reportedly brought in police to arrest Gonzales, who has since denied the allegations.
Gonzales now faces charges under The Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, first brought into law in 1998, which explains, in detail, the rules and rendition of the country’s anthem.
In June, the Philippines took the first steps to make changes to this law that includes requiring people to sing along “with fervor” when the national anthem is played at a public gathering. The law also dictates the range and beat required for national anthem singing.
If the amendment passes, those who are convicted may face fines of up to $2000, or imprisonment of up to one year.
The Philippines is not alone in its national-anthem laws
The Philippines joins a growing list of countries in Asia who are placing a large amount of importance on their national anthem, which serves as a symbol of national pride.
In October, China’s National Anthem Law came was signed into action, state-run Xinhua reported. The law dictates the Chinese anthem must be sung at political gatherings, major celebrations, and other suitable events.
It is now illegal to modify the Chinese anthem’s lyrics, or play the national anthem during funerals, commercials, or as background music.
Those who violate the law face up to 15 days in jail for “distorting” the anthem and up to three years in prison.
The law was created despite few cases of people in China disrespecting the national anthem, The New York Times said. The move is seen as a manifestation of President Xi Jinping’s deepening demands for patriotic devotion in China, the Times added.
Controversially, the law was extended to include Hong Kong and Macau, which are Chinese territories. In protest in November, Hong Kong football fans loudly booed when China’s anthem was played at a World Cup qualifying match, defying Beijing just days after jail terms for the law were increased, the Guardian reported.
Video from last night’s football match in Hong Kong, where booing drowns out China’s national anthem. Doing so will soon be illegal. pic.twitter.com/pRDovBhKdp
— Rob Schmitz (@rob_schmitz) November 15, 2017
While India already had national Anthem laws from 1971 — that mandate jail time for those who “prevent the singing” or cause disturbances during the anthem — last year India’s Supreme Court ruled the national anthem must be played before every film screening.
The law also required the Indian flag to be displayed, and for all citizens to stand up in respect while the anthem is played.
Following the court’s decision12 moviegoers were arrested in December 2016 for refusing to stand.
A day prior, police arrested seven people for taking selfies while the anthem played in a theatre in Chennai.
National-anthem laws mirror growing nationalist feelings in region
Experts say stricter enforcement of national-anthem laws points toincreasing nationalism across the region
Eric Chong, who contributed to the book “Reimagining Nation and Nationalism in Multicultural East Asia,” says the use of national symbols, like the national anthem, could have more symbolic importance in Asian countries than more liberal democracies in the West.
“In Asia, countries tend to put emphasis on collective interests above any individual or sub-group interests, and [national] sovereignty is put at the extreme top,” Chong told Business Insider.
Chong says that while the West may be following the trend of globalism and anti-nationalist sentiment, Asia has been steadily moving in the opposite direction, particularly in China.
“Chinese nationalism in particular emphasizes the Chinse Communist Party-led development pathways,” which Chong says enforces the notion that Chinese need to have “high trust in their own institutions and governance.”
While Colin Kaepernick has shown that refusing to stand during the national anthem can be seen as a sign of progressive protest against powerful institutions in the US, Chong predicts nationalist feelings in Asia will only continue to rise.
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