Geneva Conventions and United Nations Personnel (Protocols) Bill [ Lords]

Part of Registration of Births and Deaths (Welsh Language) – in the House of Commons at 3:12 pm on 1st April 2009.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Shadow Minister (Education) 3:12 pm, 1st April 2009

The swastika was hijacked, as my hon. Friend puts it, from the Greeks, was it not? It is a reference to the Nazis' desire to emulate the tokens and symbols of the ancient world. It is true that it has been used in India from ancient times, but it was as a Greek symbol that it gained the admiration of the wicked masterminds of the Third Reich. However, my hon. Friend is right that the hijacking of symbols is important in our considerations today. Indeed, the red cross was used as a symbol relatively recently by terrorists posing as serving a humanitarian purpose when they were, in fact, malevolent in their intent, so symbols in themselves are no guarantee. None the less, it is important that we understand their significance and defend their use where they serve a moral purpose, as I believe the red cross and the red crescent do.

I must press on to say another word about Syria before I move on to the main body of my argument.

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