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European Parliament condemns racism in the US and Europe

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MEP Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana is applauded by colleagues following her speech on racism in Parliament
MEP Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana is applauded by colleagues following her speech on racism in Parliament   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Francisco Seco
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The European Parliament has declared "black lives matter" as it adopted a resolution in response to the racial justice protests that have spread throughout Europe since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.

493 MEPs voted in favour, 104 against, and 67 abstained in the vote which also declares the slave trade is ""a crime against humanity".

In its text, Parliament "strongly condemns the appalling death of George Floyd in the United States, as well as similar murders elsewhere in the world".

It expresses its support for recent demonstrations against racism and discrimination and condemns "white supremacism in all its forms".

MEPs condemn police action against "peaceful American demonstrators and journalists" and the "inflammatory rhetoric" of US President Donald Trump.

"The excessive use of force against the crowd is contrary to the principle of proportionality," they write.

The resolution also stresses that racist and xenophobic speech is not a matter of freedom of expression.

During Wednesday's plenary debate, German MEP Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana said she had been the victim of police violence the day before in Brussels when she photographed a speech she considered abusive, a version disputed by the Belgian police.

She was given a standing ovation for her speech, and told Euronews how touched she was by the gesture.

The UN Human Rights Council also unanimously adopted on Friday a resolution condemning systemic racism and police violence, but after the withdrawal of a specific reference to the United States.

Alice Bah Kuhnke, shadow and greens Vice President, said that "the adoption of the resolution is a historically important victory. It shows that progressive forces, across party borders in the EP, stand firm in our call to end racism and discrimination in the US and in the EU, and to condemn police violence and attacks on journalists who are documenting the protests".

"The time has come to once and for all strengthen the fight against all kinds of discrimination in the EU", Swedish MEP Bah Kuhnke adds. "As greens, we are proud to have taken this initiative and it is now up to the Commission and the Council to step up and act. A first step would be to unblock the anti-discrimination directive, which has been blocked in Council since 2008. The resolution, adopted by Parliament sends a clear message. The directive has to be unblocked immediately. To this end, I expect Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to act and do her utmost to mobilize Council during the German Presidency".