Letter: Eternal vigilance against racism

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read with interest your report 'Jews fear prospect of rule by Mussolini's heir' (16 April). I have just spent a week in Italy, and can assure you that it is not the Jewish community alone which views with great apprehension the victory of the right-wing Freedom Party and the prospect of a government that may include neo-fascists.

The Pope, speaking at a Vatican concert to commemorate the Holocaust - a concert I helped to organise and was privileged to attend, together with the Italian President and the Chief Rabbi of Rome - referred to the long history of anti-Semitism. He said:

It is not enough that we remember, for in our own day, regrettably, there are many new manifestations of the anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racial hatred which were the seeds of those unspeakable crimes.

Your leading article 'Liberalism can cope with the skinheads' (16 April), referring to the situation in our own country, rightly reminds us of the importance of freedom of speech. But, as you point out, there are laws limiting that freedom. The Public Order Act and the Race Relations Act can be applied where the British National Party oversteps the mark. It may well be that these Acts need strengthening, with special reference to racial attacks. If this is the case, then it is the task of a liberal democracy to do so. Eternal vigilance remains the price of freedom.

Yours faithfully,

SIGMUND STERNBERG

Chairman

Executive Committee

International Council of

Christians and Jews

London, NW5

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