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Hindus oppose swastika ban in EU
H S Rao in London | January 17, 2007 19:28 IST
Hindus in Europe are opposing a German call for an European Union ban on the display of swastikas, the 5,000-year-old Hindu religious symbol that became the insignia of the Nazi Party, saying it was 'sacred' to the community.
Hindus in Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy plan to visit each EU member state, European Commission leaders and members of the European parliament to garner support for a pressure group intended to resist the German move.
Germany plans to use its presidency of the European Union to launch an initiative, which could lead to common laws making it a crime to display Nazi symbols like swastika.
German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said earlier this month that the country wanted to make Holocaust denial punishable by law and a prohibition on Nazi symbols in every member state of the EU.
Claiming that a ban on swastikas would amount to abuse of human rights, Ramesh Kallidai, Secretary General of the Hindu Forum of Britain, an umbrella organization of about 275 Hindu organizations here, told PTI that it would affect 2.5 million Hindus in Europe. They would be found guilty of violating the law if they use the sacred swastika symbol at religious or marriage functions.
"The Nazi Party started using a Hindu symbol and abused it. That's not the fault of the Hindus. For us swastika is a sacred symbol implying peace and prosperity," he said.
Kallidai said the forum was working with the Hindu Council of Holland, which represents about 50 Hindu groups, the Hindu Forum of Belgium, comprising about 20 organisations and the Italian Hindu Union, made up of about 25 groups.
He said besides launching a Europe-wide campaign to create awareness of the importance of Swastika for Hindus, the issue would be taken up at the European Parliament through a motion.