Vaclav Havel honoured with giant neon heart in Brussels

image copyrightAP
image captionHeart in Brussels: Havel paved the way for Czech entry into the EU in 2004

A giant pink neon heart now adorns the European Parliament building in Brussels in memory of the late dissident playwright and Czech leader Vaclav Havel, who died a year ago.

His Czech fans are encouraging people to roll up their trouser legs in a comic gesture to honour Havel.

As Czech president he wore trousers which were "noticeably short", the trouser campaign website says.

Havel was widely admired for his long struggle against communist repression.

The trouser gesture is "humorous, non-violent but significant and perhaps even very Czech-like", the campaign group says.

The neon heart in Brussels, measuring 15m by 17m (50ft x 56ft), adorned the facade of Prague Castle before the end of Havel´s second presidential term in December 2002.

Its creator, Jiri David, was inspired by a small, hand-written heart which Havel used to place after his signature, a statement from MEPs in the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group says.

It is described as a symbol of Havel's commitment to human rights, peace and democracy.

Havel died at the age of 75, having guided Czechs and Slovaks through the turbulent 1989 Velvet Revolution and democratic transformation. He was elected Czechoslovak president in December 1989, then led the Czech Republic after the split with Slovakia.

Supporters of the late Ahmed Shah Masood, a resistance fighter who led opposition to the Afghan Taliban, plan to transport the neon heart to Kabul next September to honour Masood, who was assassinated on 9 September 2001. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were blamed for the bomb blast which killed him.

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