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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 February, 2005, 19:28 GMT
EU ban urged on communist symbols
A hammer and sickle symbol (file)
MEPs say the hammer and sickle is a reminder of a totalitarian regime
Several European Parliament members have urged the EU to match a proposed ban on Nazi signs with one on communist symbols like the hammer and sickle.

The MEPs, from Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, said communist symbols were a reminder of suffering under Soviet-era regimes.

EU debate over Nazi symbols was fuelled by outcry after the UK's Prince Harry wore a swastika to a costume party.

A spokesman said the EU had no plans to include communist signs in any new ban.

'Equal treatment'

Possible measures forbidding Nazi symbols are to be discussed by EU members this month as part of proposed rules to outlaw xenophobia and racism across the 25-member bloc.

Correspondents say any such ban would be fraught with difficulty.

The group of centre-right MEPs put their case over communist symbols to EU justice and home affairs commissioner Franco Frattini.

"We would like to have an equal treatment of the other evil totalitarian regime of the communist system," said Jozsef Szajer, a Hungarian MEP, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Czech MEP Jan Zahradil agreed: "If we decide to ban one, we should decide to ban all of them."

But Mr Frattini's spokesman, Frisco Roscam Abbing, said the commissioner felt it "might not be appropriate" to include communist symbols in the context of discussions on xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

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