Anti-Semitism and the Future of Europe

Robin Sclafani, Director of CEJI-A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe, writes today (full article here):

This weekend in the heart of Europe has been a stark and symbolic reminder of what is at stake for the future of social cohesion in this grand and visionary project of the European Union.

On the eve of European and Belgian elections, a gunman opened fire in the Jewish Museum of Brussels, killing 4 people. It is probably the worst incident of anti-semitic hate crime seen in Belgium since WWII.

The European Union was born in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust with the purpose of sustaining peaceful relations in a land which had been twice torn apart by war in the first half of the 20th century. There was a general shock in the self-realisation of how much anti-semitic complicity enabled Hitler to enact his genocidal mission against the Jewish people, with Roma, homosexuals, disabled people also victims in his crusade. Remorse was translated into a sense of political and public responsibility.

Yet this weekend’s European Parliament elections saw 77 new MEPs from xenophobic parties, up 50% from five years ago. This does not bode well for the future of Europe.

The European Union is rooted in the value of respect for diversity. It seems that the foundation of Europe is currently undergoing some kind of earthquake, with this weekend’s anti-semitic attacks providing the exclamation mark on the election results.

What is most despairing, however, is that it is not a total surprise in the EU capital given the many recent indicators of a hostile climate for Jews in Belgium. Just this month on May 4th, a gathering of 500 anti-semitic politicians and public figures (including the infamous French comedian Dieudonne) took place in Brussels, called the “First European Conference of Dissidence”.

It is good to hear the Belgian politicians sharing their outrage at this Saturday’s attack. CEJI’s Director Robin Sclafani says, ”I hope they can finally hear the alarm this time for what is a wake-up call that has been snoozed too many times already.”

CEJI urges our Belgian and European political representatives to implement the following measures:

  • Adequate European wide security measures for vulnerable Jewish institutions and buildings. This need is more pressing than ever and it is a responsibility of the state to keep its people safe.

  • Comprehensive hate crime monitoring which is a crucial part of the process of understanding, preventing and responding to anti-semitism and other forms of bias motivated violence.

  • Obligatory educational curriculum against anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of hatred which is absolutely essential to give room to the many cultures and religions in Europe.

For further information, contact +32.486.640.822 or robin.sclafani@ceji.org

About CEJI:
CEJI – A Jewish Contribution to an Inclusive Europe stands with individuals and organisations of all religions, cultures and backgrounds to promote a diverse and inclusive Europe. Through the programme, Facing Facts!, CEJI trains civil society organisations how to monitor hate crimes in order to advocate for effective prevention and intervention measures. CEJI works to combat prejudice and discrimination and to promote social cohesion through training and education, dialogue initiatives and advocacy at a European level. www.ceji.org

EU Elections – 10 action points

OUR MESSAGE FOR THE EUROPEAN ELECTIONS

Download the 10 Action Points here

The European Network on Religion & Belief is a Europe-wide network of religious and non-religious organisations committed to action for equality and mutual understanding and against discrimination, hate crime and prejudice.

We ask all MEPs to support our 10 action points for the new European Parliament:

EU Strategy on Religion and Belief

Develop a strategy and funding to support equality on grounds of religion and belief equivalent to the other five strands of equalities on race, gender, disability, age and sexual orientation.

EU Guidelines on Freedom of Religion and Belief

Ensure coherence between EU external affairs policy as expressed in the 2013 Guidelines, and internal policy as it affects member states.

Support a European Parliamentary Working Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief which covers the EU as well as the rest of the world.

Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Support the rapid adoption of the Draft Directive on Equal Treatment to include discrimination on grounds of religion/belief, disability, age and sexual orientation.

Improve Implementation of EU Equalities Policies on Religion and Belief

Funding for a European network on equalities and non-discrimination on grounds of religion and belief, and for civil society awareness raising and campaigning actions.

Improve EU consultation with, and participation of, religion/belief minorities

Some minorities are among Europe’s most excluded citizens, and require active outreach and specific action to hear their voices, promote their interests and involve their communities.

In Civil Society

Develop a Europe-wide programme against violence and hate speech/crime

Proactive measures and campaigns are needed to combat increasing violence, hate speech and bullying on grounds of religion, belief or non-belief.

Combat Inequalities in Health, Education and Social Provision

Mobilise EU and member state action to make available these basic human rights – which have been in some cases denied or reduced for certain communities.

Equal Access to Justice for All

Promote Civil Society initiatives to ensure that all communities are aware of their EU Fundamental Rights and have access to advocacy and redress in case of discrimination.

Promote European Unity in Diversity through Dialogue and Common Action

Actively take up the challenge in President Barroso’s April 2013 speech by promoting inter-convictional (religious and non-religious) dialogue and action for Europe’s long-term benefit.

Is wearing articles of faith a threat to European democracies?

ENORB’s next seminar is on 3-4 December in Brussels.

enorb5

The topic of religious symbols and clothing is one which has caused considerable controversy over the past year in several European countries. We will be exploring the reasons for this and trying to build consensus on how to handle the issue, which is right at the interface of Europe’s secular traditions and the human right to manifest religion or belief.

Please register at https://enorb4.eventbrite.com to reserve your place.  Full details will be available soon.