updated 1/17/2005 11:37:48 AM ET 2005-01-17T16:37:48

The European Union may consider banning Nazi symbols in its 25 member nations after Britain’s Prince Harry wore a swastika armband to a costume party, the bloc’s top justice official said Monday.

Franco Frattini, the EU’s justice and home affairs commissioner, said he was open to discussing the issue at a Jan. 27 meeting of EU justice ministers.

“It may be worth looking into the possibility of a total ban, a Europe-wide ban,” his spokesman, Friso Roscam Abbing, told reporters Monday. “Commissioner Frattini shares the general feeling of opprobrium on the use of the swastika and other Nazi symbols.”

The call came after several German conservatives, socialists and liberal democrats in the European Parliament urged a European ban following a scandal last week over photos published worldwide of Harry , third in line to the British throne, wearing the Nazi outfit.

German Socialist Helmut Kuhne called Harry a “royal idiot” for not knowing the consequences and World War II history linked to the Nazi swastika.

German ban
Germany already bans such symbols.

But British Liberal Democrat Chris Davies questioned the need to ban the swastika.

“I understand how the burden of history weighs upon my German colleagues’ view,” he said. “However, banning symbols cannot ban evil and risks playing into the hands of those who would seek to subvert the very liberties we most champion.”

Roscam Abbing said Frattini would urge EU ministers to use the swastika incident to push for agreement on EU-wide rules to combat racism, fascism and anti-Semitism.

A proposal was introduced two years ago but discussions have failed to make headway. Roscam Abbing said officials would take care not to violate freedom of expression in devising such a ban.

Frattini’s decision to look into an EU-wide ban could further embarrass Queen Elizabeth II, who is to lead British commemorations of the Holocaust in London later this month.

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