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Šťastný wants to outlaw communist symbols

Slovak MEP Peter Šťastný has lent his voice to a call for a European ban on symbols of communist totalitarian regimes, including the red star and the hammer and sickle.

Šťastný joined an initiative organized by MEPs from new EU member states Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary and the Czech Republic.

The initiative is a respoonse to moves by the European commissioner for Justice and the Interior, Franco Frattini, to ban the use of Nazi symbols throughout Europe.

Šťastný told journalists that although he was a supporter of free speech, he felt that if there was to be a ban on symbols of one hateful and dictatorial regime, then there should be balance, and therefore he supported the ban on communist symbols.

According to Šťastný, Communist regimes have been responsible for much more torture, pain, suffering and death than any other regime.

The European Commission has not been quick to welcome the initiative. It stated that the planned European Framework for the War on Racism and Xenophobia, where the ban on Nazi symbols is proposed, was not the best place for a discussion of communist symbols.

Frattini, however, issued a statement that he understood the feelings of pain and suffering that communist symbols evoke in people, and that he is open to political debate on this issue.

Compiled by Roger Heyes from press reports
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