Swastika Ban Call Upsets Hindus

CNN, Jan. 17, 2007

Hindus in Europe are joining forces to oppose German calls for a law across the European Union banning the display of Nazi symbols, saying the swastika symbolizes peace and not hate.

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 EU to launch an initiative which could lead to common laws across the bloc making it a crime to deny genocide and display Nazi symbols.

“The swastika has been around for 5,000 years as a symbol of peace. This is exactly the opposite of how it was used by Hitler,” said Ramesh Kallidai of the Hindu Forum of Britain.

“It is almost like saying that the Klu Klux Klan used burning crosses to terrorize black men, so therefore let us ban the cross. How does that sound to you?”

The European umbrella group of Hindus plans to launch in the European Parliament in May.

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Germany, alarmed by a rise in far-right crime, wants to harmonize the rules for punishing offenders in member states.

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“Every time we see a swastika symbol in a Jewish cemetery, that of course must be condemned. But when the symbol is used in a Hindu wedding, people should learn to respect that,” he told Reuters.

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