On 29 January 2015, during the Winter part-session of the Parliamentary Assembly, the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance was officially launched in the presence of Anne Brasseur, PACE President, and Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
Most of the 47 Council of Europe member states are already represented in the Alliance by members of their parliaments. Other will follow, by signing the Charter of Commitments based on the awareness that “hate speech and manifestations of racism and intolerance on any grounds are a plight affecting all countries in Europe and all levels of society”.
Members of the Alliance commit themselves to taking stance openly against racism, hatred and intolerance and to promoting non-discrimination and respect for diversity. They will endeavour to raise awareness amongst politicians and civil society by campaigning against racism using all available communications means. Social media will play a significant role in this quest.
Ms Brasseur and Ms Battaini-Dragoni expressed their wholehearted support for the initiative. Ms Brasseur underlined that concrete action against hate speech is urgently needed and reaffirmed that fighting intolerance and promoting respect for diversity were among her priorities, as “diversity is what makes us rich and represents the future of our societies”.
The Alliance’s first activity was an exchange of views on anti-Semitism in Europe, with the participation of Maurice Sosnowski, Chairperson of the Coordination Committee of Jewish Organisations in Belgium, Snežana Samardzić-Markovic, Director General, Directorate General of Democracy of the Council of Europe, and Jane Braden-Golay, President of the European Union of Jewish students.
The situation depicted by the guest speakers is alarming: anti-Semitism is becoming more widespread in Europe in various forms, both in political discourse and in an increasing number of violent attacks.
Mr Sosnoswki called on political leaders to “call things by their name” and not to underestimate anti-Semitism in whatever form and context it presents itself. On the other hand, various organisations are striving to counter anti-Semitism; and the Council of Europe is very active in this field. As Director General Samardzic-Markovic explained, “this will be a long process and we must start now”.
There was hope in Braden Golay’s words, as she was confident that the members of the Alliance as parliamentarians have the ability to shape the political debate in their home countries. She called on members of the Alliance to dedicate themselves to creating a Europe where the Jewish community and all other communities are safe and fully embraced. As Buchenwald survivor Rabbi Lau said a few days ago, “We can’t change the past – But we can change the present”.