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Pedro Agramunt: an education of citizenship and democracy to immunize our societies against the virus of hatred

Speaking at the opening of the annual Council of Europe Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue, PACE President Pedro Agramunt called to fulfil a common duty to promote a culture of peace and living together. In particular, he referred to his goal of turning the Assembly’s anti-terrorism #NoHateNoFear initiative into a genuine grassroots movement so as to immunise our societies against this “epidemic of hate” that terrorists and extremists were seeking to create.

“Education is an ideal tool for assimilating fundamental values such as dignity, respect and tolerance, providing sound protection against the virus of hate. Religions and churches are founded on these values and seek to uphold them in their everyday work. It is essential, therefore, to tap into their potential to support education for democratic citizenship,” he added.

“We need to show that in our democratic societies, freedom of religion, freedom of thought and open-minded secularism are not only mutually compatible but also inextricably linked.”

“Together, we will stand up to the extremists’ attempts to destroy our way of life, to divide us and to undermine the message of peace and freedom that religions are endeavouring to get across. Together, we can conquer the hate and fear that they are trying to spread in our societies,” he concluded.