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banner Monday, 18 September, 2000, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Kennedy welcomes holocaust memorial
By BBC News Online political correspondent Nick Assinder

Charles Kennedy, speaking at a fringe meeting organised by the Commission for Racial Equality and the Holocaust Educational Trust, welcomed the creation of Britain's first holocaust memorial day next year and declared the lessons of history must never be forgotten.

He said the holocaust had stained humanity as a whole and congratulated the two groups on their success in having next 27 January recognised as a special day.

He said he was delighted their fringe meeting coincided with the induction of Lord Navnit Dholakia as the first Asian head of a British political party.

"This is a huge and significant moment for the party and for society as a whole," he said.

Lib Dem front bencher Lembit Opik told the meeting the holocaust memorial day was not just about the past.

Race card

Pointing to the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda and Bosnia he said: "these atrocities are still being committed. We just have not learned the lessons."

Lib Dem peer Lord Lester also told the meeting that there was a new danger from politicians playing the race card.

He did not name either of the other major parties but there has been criticism of both the Tories and Labour over immigration policies.

And, most recently Tory spokesman Liam Fox was attacked for targeting Asian doctors who, Mr Opik claimed, often did not speak English sufficiently well.

He went on to say that, while he was delighted there was to be a holocaust memorial day, he did not believe denial of the holocaust should be a criminal offence in Britain.

"The best way to counter evil ideas is in the market place of ideas," he said.

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