In the letter, the Mayor urges the MEPs to endorse the European Parliament ‘Declaration on religious rights and freedoms in France and throughout the European Union,’ and writes:
‘I believe that banning the display of religious symbols is an infringement of human rights and therefore fully agree with the Declaration’s request that the French Government reconsider its ban of conspicuous religious symbols in schools.
‘As a city with such a diverse multicultural population, any form of discrimination against cultural or religious freedom has, in my view, the effect of stigmatising many of London’s communities and create further division and intolerance. Therefore, London has an interest in seeing basic human rights such as the right to freedom of religious expression upheld everywhere, including in the rest of Europe.’
So far, 49 MEPs have signed the Declaration, which was submitted by MEPs Claude Moraes, Caroline Lucas, Sarah Ludford, Philip Bushill-Matthews and Alain Lipietz. In his letter, Mayor Ken Livingstone encourages MEPs to endorse the Declaration during the plenary session of 27-28 April in Brussels.
Notes to Editors
1. The French law, which prohibits the wearing of religious symbols, came into force at the beginning of September 2004.
2. In February 2004, Mayor Ken Livingstone wrote to the French Prime Minster Jean-Pierre Raffarin, urging the French government to reconsider its proposals to ban the wearing of religious symbols in state schools.
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