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PACE President calls for cooperation between public authorities and religious leaders to fight radicalisation

In her opening speech of the Council of Europe Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue, Anne Brasseur underlined the symbolic importance of meeting in Sarajevo. " This is a message that despite the conflicts of the past, it is possible to build peace and live together in unity and respect."

"All actors of our societies, including and especially the religious communities and non-confessional organisations, must play an active role in the process of 'building 'inclusive societies together'. Of course, we all know that religion may give rise to intolerance, fanaticism and violence, becoming a threat to democracy and human rights: this is unacceptable", she stressed.

"The contribution of religious organisations to combating effectively extremism and radicalisation is absolutely crucial," she said. Stressing the importance of cooperation between public authorities and religious leaders to fight radicalisation that may lead to terrorism, the PACE President called for “the teaching of religion to become an opportunity for reciprocal listening and for developing critical thinking, including within the religious communities themselves.”

She also recalled an earlier PACE recommendation to the Committee of Ministers calling for the creation of 'a stable an officially recognised platform for dialogue between the Council of Europe and senior representatives of religions and non-denominational organisations in order to consolidate the existing relations with those partners and foster active commitment by all the stakeholders in activities to promote the Organisation’s fundamental values, which underpin ‘living together’.

"To combat the danger of extremism and radicalisation, we must make our democratic societies stronger, focusing on the fundamental values that bind us together : peace, human dignity and fundamental rights, non-discrimination, tolerance, respect, and understanding," Anne Brasseur concluded.