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The Battle Against ISIS Now Extends to License Plates

MAINZ, Germany — License plates which could be perceived as referring to ISIS have been banned in one German city.

Officials in Marburg have stopped releasing those starting with "IS" — the initials of the so-called "Islamic State."

Image: License plate shop in Wiesbaden, Germany
A shop in Wiesbaden, Germany, which prints license plates. Andy Eckardt / NBC News

"After the Paris attacks in November last year, we decided to no longer issue this letter combination," city spokesman Markus Morr told NBC News. "About 215 cars in our wider region are still driving around with the abbreviation 'IS'."

Owners willing to pay the small fee for personalized vanity plates in Marburg will also be asked to stay away from the controversial letters. Marburg registers around 4,000 new vehicles each month.

"On the one hand this decision was made out of respect for the victims of the terror attacks, but also because the town was hosting around 4,000 refugees at the time, many of whom fled from the 'Islamic State'," Marburg town councillor Marian Zachow said in a statement.

German license plates generally begin with the letter abbreviation of the municipality the vehicle has been registered in, followed by one- or two-letter combinations and several numbers.

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Since the end of World War II, abbreviations that were used by Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime — including "SS" (Hitler's infamous paramilitary organization), "HJ" (for Hitler Youth) or "KZ" (concentration camp) — have also been off-limits across Germany.

The Bavarian city of Nuernberg recently banned the combination "N-PD," an abbreviation for Germany's notorious far-right National Democratic Party.

And residents who want to use "N-SU" — letters that were used by right-wing terror organization National Socialist Underground — "will have to request special permission with a specific reason," said Steffen Kessler, a spokesman for Nuernberg's regulatory agency.

However, the letter combination "AH" — Hitler's initials — has not been banned in Germany.

Image: German license plate
A German license plate which includes the letter combination "AH." Andy Eckardt / NBC News