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Last Updated: Monday, 17 January, 2005, 11:42 GMT
Call for Europe-wide swastika ban
Prince Harry is pictured in the Sun newspaper
Prince Harry has been heavily criticised for his actions
German politicians have called for Nazi symbols to be banned throughout Europe after Prince Harry was pictured wearing a swastika to a fancy dress party.

The Liberal group in the European Parliament argue all of Europe suffered because of the Nazis' crimes, so there should be a continent-wide ban.

Displaying the swastika and other Nazi symbols is illegal in Germany.

But the director of human rights group Liberty told the BBC education would be more beneficial than a ban.

A senior Christian Democrat said the proposal of a Europe-wide ban of the symbols may be discussed at the next meeting of European justice ministers.

The photograph of Harry in a costume with a Nazi swastika armband was taken at a friend's birthday party in Wiltshire last weekend.

The incident was broadcast around the world and the prince issued a statement in which he apologised for causing offence.

Vice-president of the Christian Democratic parliamentary group Wolfgang Bosback said the outfit "really lacked taste".

I don't think we should, in this country, sweep the swastika under the carpet
Shami Chakrabarti

He said it was possible European justice ministers would discuss bringing in a European prohibition on displaying the swastika and other Nazi signs.

Liberal group vice-president Silvana Koch-Merin said: "All of Europe has suffered in the past because of the crimes of the Nazis, therefore it would be logical for Nazi symbols to be banned all over Europe."

She also called for the question to be placed on the agenda at the next meeting of justice ministers.

The vice-president of the parliamentary Social Democratic group, Michael Mueller, said a study was needed to find out how a German-style anti-Nazi law could be applied to the rest of Europe.

But Liberty director, Shami Chakrabarti, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme she felt banning the swastika would not solve "a serious social problem".

The Nazis' final assault on the Jews from 1933-1945
Estimated 15m civilians killed by regime
6m Jews murdered
1942: Gas chambers built at Birkenau concentration camp, mass transports begin
Majority who arrive gassed immediately
About 900,000 gassed at Birkenau
1.1m died at Auschwitz-Birkenau and its sub-camps
1m of them were Jewish

Every generation should be taught the full meaning of the symbols and the "horrors of the Holocaust", she said.

Ms Chakrabarti added: "I have a strong emotional response when I see a swastika, it makes my stomach turn."

But she said the last couple of weeks have shown her a whole generation of "decent, intelligent people" did not share this response and it was everyone's obligation to teach them the symbol's meaning.

"I don't think we should, in this country, sweep the swastika under the carpet. I think we should understand its full significance," Ms Chakrabarti said.

Banning Nazi symbols in Germany had not eradicated racism and the far right there, she added.

But German ambassador to Britain, Thomas Matussek, told Today the ban had helped put Germany among countries in Europe "with the least number of people subscribing to Nazi ideas".

He also pointed out that the Nazi symbols were not completely banned in Germany and were still used in education and arts.

"It was also out of respect to the victims that led us to introduce this sort of legislation half a century ago," Mr Matussek added.

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