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PACE President calls on all religious authorities to condemn intolerance, discrimination, hatred and violence

In her address at the opening of the thematic year for 2016 on the Reformation and the global world, in the context of the Luther decade, Anne Brasseur issued an appeal to all religious authorities to openly and unreservedly condemn intolerance, discrimination, hatred and violence.

“Religion and faith – like non-religious convictions – can neither countenance nor justify behavour commanded by contempt of others, and we must all strive to eradicate such behavior,” she said.

“Today we are confronted with an upsurge of manifestations of intolerance, rejection and violence, from which social cohesion is liable to suffer. It is a matter of urgency to establish a new pattern for living together. Everyone must not only accept the existence of diverse sensibilities, whether or not religious, but also respect them. To pretend indifference is inappropriate; to feel threatened is an error”, she declared.

“It behoves us to unite, despite our religious, cultural, national or historical differences, in order to defend the values of democracy, human rights and rule of law, values which are more threatened than ever,” she said.

“It is the fundamental values of the Council of Europe which must form the basis of what unites us. No religion, no school of thought can supplant them, let alone be placed above these fundamental values. So it is indispensable that the various churches and religious communities uphold the European Convention on Human Rights, and affirm the equal dignity of all persons together with their wholehearted commitment to democratic principles and human rights,” she recalled.

“In the discussion about migration, we hear more and more often voices calling for a policy that links the hosting of asylum seekers and refugees to their religion and which are only ready to host Christians. This, however is not Christian. Such a segregative approach is unacceptable and contradicts the European Convention on Human Rights,” she added.

Finally, the President issued an appeal to institute policies that say no to hatred. Recalling that the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance was launched by the PACE in January this year to rally parliamentarians of the Council of Europe member states who commit themselves to taking open, firm and proactive stands against racism, hatred and intolerance, Ms Brasseur expressed the hope of seeing this Alliance extended to other international agencies such as the European Parliament and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, as well as to the world of voluntary service, sport and religion. “I am glad that His Holiness the Pope has consented to support our No Hate Parliamentary Alliance”.

The role of the Council of Europe in defence of its values, managing the massive arrival of refugees and expectations as regards the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance were also mentioned during this event in the framework of the PACE President’s bilateral encounters with the former Federal President of Germany Horst Köhler, as well as with Minister of State for European affairs Michael Roth and his French counterpart, Secretary of State Harlem Désir.