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‘Parody and humour can undermine neo-Nazis too’

PACE’s rapporteur on counteracting neo-Nazism, Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin (Sweden, EPP/CD), has hailed the power of “parody and humour” to undermine neo-Nazi ideas.

Moderating a panel during the three-day World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg – which is focusing on how young people can revitalise democracy – the rapporteur said: “Neo-Nazis should not be ignored, but nor should they be turned into martyrs.”

She welcomed the “Stork Heinar” project in Germany, and others like it, which parody neo-Nazi groups. A full-size stork, accompanied by pseudo-military brass band members, makes fun of neo-Nazis and spreads peaceful and positive messages.

Addressing a packed room of mainly young people, Ms de Pourbaix-Lundin recalled the main points of the Assembly’s recent resolution on combating neo-Nazism and right-wing extremism.

Among others, she stressed the usefulness of “exit programmes” to help people escape neo-Nazi groups – often with the help of former neo-Nazis who have themselves been through this process – and urged states to make fuller use of existing laws against hate-speech and hate-crime.

Finally, she recalled that young people had been at the origin of the proposal to make 22 July, the anniversary of the Utøya attacks in Norway, a European Day for Victims of Hate Crime. The Assembly has given the plan its full backing, which has now been passed to Council of Europe governments for a decision.

PACE member Konstantinos Triantafyllos (Greece, SOC), Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks and a lawyer from the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) also took part in the Lab.