published in Le Monde, (France) 02/11/10.
Our assessment is clear: while racism and antisemitism continue to spread in Europe, civil and political resistance has so far been limited and helpless to stop the scourge.
The recent elections in Sweden, Hungary and Bulgaria, as well as the coalition government agreement in the Netherlands, have confirmed the trend: the political racism is advancing and winning electoral victories across Europe.
Given impetus by economic crisis and social unrest, and particularly by the increasing tension over national identity that is sweeping our continent, racist parties slip their traditional ideas into the heart of public debates and onto government agendas.
Their growing electoral and ideological influence is made easier by the lightening speed, like some horrifying game of dominos, with which European public opinions appropriate these sickening arguments, following the example of recent discussions labelling the Roma as a dangerous population.
The movement of these ideas can be explained by both the transnational links existing between the racist movements and by the absence of the intellectual, political and ideological constructs necessary to oppose these racist speeches. This absence is mainly due to the difficulty that many European countries have in confronting their past: the Shoah, Italian fascism, colonialism in the cases of post-colonial countries, totalitarism in Eastern Europe – the list goes on.
Therefore, it is not surprising that popular and political reactions have been too weak to properly denounce January’s anti-black pogroms in Rosarno in southern Italy, the stigmatization of the Roma in France, their forced evictions in Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Romania and their killings in Hungary, the hateful anti-Muslim commentaries which are common in Germany, in Denmark and in Western Europe and the racial discriminations which many European citizens face daily.
In light of this disturbing realization, we firmly oppose to the political forces which use these issues to create their hatemongering discourse.
We do not accept that Muslims are presented as terrorists and as a menace to identity, that the Roma are expelled, that Jews are beaten and so feel they must hide themselves, that the lives of the blacks are threatened.
The urgency of the situation is such that we must immediately forge an antiracist European civil society in order to keep the European dream alive beyond country borders.
Our European dream is to live on a continent where an individual has the freedom to define his or her destiny, unconstrained by his or her family origins or by his or her membership in a community. Our European dream is to build welcoming and inclusive societies, where equality between citizens is written in text and lived in reality.
In order to breathe life into this dream, we want to make our voice heard, the voice of tens of thousands of activists all over Europe who work daily to combat racism and antisemitism, the voice of the victims which are too often left without the means or the influence to ensure that their rights are respected.
We will show our solidarity in action by organizing grassroots campaigns to create concrete change in our respective countries. We are particularly focused on combating racial discrimination in the workplace, in housing, in leisure time, etc.
In periods of crisis, there is a strong temptation to find and target scapegoats. However, the kind of hate mongering which is fuelled by a sense of hopelessness can only lead to a violent and destructive end for our values and our societies.
We will not allow hate to circulate freely through Europe without fighting it with determination.
The task of building a Europe where racism and antisemitism have no place is an enormous challenge, but we have Justice on our side and the strength to ensure that this ideal triumphs.
Abdoelhafiezkhan Dionne, President of the King Movement Foundation/ Hi5, The Netherlands ; Abtan Benjamin, Secretary General of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement ; Bihariova Irena, President of Ludia proti rasizmu, Slovakia ; Dabic Tea, Coordinator of Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Croatia ; Denes Balazs, Executive Director of TASZ – Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Hungary ; Gidlund Lina, Project leader at the antidiscrimination Bureau, Sweden ; Gjoshi Raba, Executive Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Kosovo ; Haruoja Merle, Board Member, Estionian Institute for Human Rights ; Jedlicki Jerzy, President of Otwarta Rzeczpospolita – Open Republic Association, Poland ; Jereghi Vanu, Executive Director, Moldovan Institute for Human Rights ; Kanev Krassimir ; President of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee ; Kornak Marcin, President of Never Again !, Poland ; Kouros Kristiina, Secretary General of the Finnish league for Human Rights ; Masic Alma, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Bosnia ; Matache Margareta, Executive director of Romani Criss, Roumania ; Micic Maja, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Serbia ; Moawia Ahmet, Coordinator at the Greek Forum for Migrants ; Muhi Erika, Director of NEKI, Hungary ; Nielsen Anne, President of SOS mod Racisme, Denmark ; N’Siala Kiese Patrick, Board Member at Kif kif, Belgium ; Osman Sherifay Mariam, President of Centrum Mot Rasism, Sweden ; Partapuoli Kari Helene, Director of the Norwegian Antiracist Centre, Philipps Bruno, Preisdent of Karawanserei ev Dresden, Germany ; Kovalenko Julia, Lawyer LICHR, Estonia ; Primdahl Troels, project leader – NoNAR, Denmark ; Raonic Boris, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights, Montenegro ; Scalzo Angela, President of SOS Razzismo, Italy ; Schindlauer Dieter, President of ZARA, Austria ; Sonderegger Philipp, Executive Director of SOS Mitmensch, Austria ; Sopo Dominique, President of SOS Racisme France ; Mjaft, Albania.