Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant is suggesting we find an alternative symbol for the Red Cross because of the logo’s supposed links to the Crusades.
MPs are debating the adoption of the ‘red crystal’ – a diamond-shaped badge – to avoid the religious connotations of the cross and crescent symbols currently used by the international body.
But critics said the new insignia was a sop to political correctness and warned that it may be the first step towards it replacing cross and crescent. Others fear that it may not be as widely recognised on the battlefield.
‘It is, in an effort not to be contentious, possibly too anodyne to serve its purpose,’ Tory MP John Hayes said.
Philip Davies, a Tory backbencher, said: ‘At face value to the layman it seems at best a solution looking for a problem and at worst another example of extreme political correctness.
‘There is also a risk of confusion with many different symbols, and that terrorists may exploit that to mask themselves when carrying out attacks,’ he added.
The founding Conference of the Red Cross Movement in 1863 adopted a red cross on a white background – the reverse of the Swiss flag – as the emblem of the voluntary medical personnel who assisted the wounded on the battlefield.
It was never intended to have any religious meaning and is thought to have been intended as a tribute to traditionally neutral Switzerland, which hosted the conference.
However, the symbol unintentionally raised suggestions that it was somehow linked to the Hospitallers, a military order which took part in the Crusades, the centuries long series of military campaigns waged by Christians from Europe.
Subsequently, a red crescent emblem was adopted in tandem.
Mr Bryant told the Commons: ‘The reference to the Crusades is… not lost to some people which, of course, anybody involved in the Red Cross would wholly deprecate.
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement hope that the neutrality of the red crystal will help improve protection for casualties, military medical services and humanitarian workers.
It was chosen because it is devoid of religious and other partisan connotations.