The EJC Condemns Comments Made By Jean-Marie Le Pen And Calls For His Suspension From The European Parliament

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EJC President Kantor: Hatred, racism and intolerance have no place in the European Union.

Desperate need for symposium to address these issues and create a more tolerant Europe

(Paris, 25 March 2009) – The European Jewish Congress (EJC) condemns comments made today by Jean-Marie Le Pen at the European Union Parliament when he once again claimed that “gas chambers were a detail of second world war history”.

These remarks are even more contemptible because as the oldest member of the parliament, Le Pen will preside over the chamber’s next inaugural session. Although some groups have called for this to be prevented, the EJC calls for Le Pen to be summarily banned from the parliament.

EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor is calling for a message to be sent to the rest of Europe that hatred and Holocaust-denial will not be tolerated.

“We call on European officials to ban hate speeches from the halls of the European Parliament along with those who utter them,” Kantor said.

“It is absurd that Le Pen is allowed to utter these words in the symbol of a united Europe. It behooves the authorities to act quickly on this and send a clear message that hatred, racism and intolerance have no place in the year 2009 in the European Union.”

The EJC feels that it is events like these that make an upcoming symposium at the European Parliament all the more important.

On Monday, 30th March, a symposium titled “Building Together the Future of Europe” will be held in corporation between the European Jewish Congress under the patronage of the Czech Presidency of the EU and the European Parliament, with the participation of the European Commission.

The one-day symposium on fighting racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism and fostering tolerance in Europe will be held at the European Parliament. Senior politicians, diplomats, religious and communal leaders from around Europe will take part in this unique event.

Community and religious leaders, MEPs, presidents of political groups, experts, intellectuals and victims of racism will meet to discuss how to face the challenges posed by intolerance and to promote co-existence.

Highlights include Jacques Barrot, Vice President of the European Commission, in charge of Freedom, Security and Justice, who will speak about the EU fight against discrimination. Aleksander Kwasniewski, Chairman of the European Council for Tolerance and Reconciliation, former President of the Republic of Poland, will speak about tolerance in Europe. Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, head of unit Research and Data Collection at the EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), will provide updates and data on racist attacks in Europe. Mrs Ruth Halimi, mother of Ilan who was brutally murdered in 2006, will deliver a testimony and Jewish community leaders from the major Jewish communities in Europe will bring their contribution.

The symposium will also hear from victims of racism and communal and religious leaders who will describe what needs to be done to combat intolerance, racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.