Once again we are witnessing “a very worrisome spike in antisemitic, anti-Roma, islamophobic and especially anti-refugees and migrants rhetoric”, Valeriu Nicolae, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Roma Issues, told members of the No Hate Parliamentary Alliance on 21 March 2017 in Paris.
How to counter this rhetoric and the risk that it may escalate further, as already happened in History more than once? Preserving the memory of the times when prejudice turned into discrimination, violence and even genocide is one of the many ways to fight against hatred today. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has pursued this mission since it was established in 1993, and has received over 40 million visitors, as Paul Shapiro, Director of the Museum's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, explained to Alliance members. The Museum aims to be a living memorial and not only a collection of objects and documents.
The European Commission, which fights against all forms of racism and xenophobia, established in 2015 the posts of Coordinator on combating anti-Semitism, held by Katharina Von Schnurbein, and Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred, held by David Friggieri who took part in this meeting of the Alliance. The two Coordinators act as contact points for the Muslim and Jewish communities, liaise with international organisations, EU member States, European institutions and civil society, with a view to strengthening policies against antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred. Countering these scourges, Mr Friggieri said, should not be left to Jews and Muslims alone, as it is a responsibility for society at large.
Places of remembrance of the Holocaust are numerous across our continent, showing that the extermination of Jews, as Mr Shapiro affirmed, was “a European project”. Sites where the memory of discrimination against Roma may be preserved and shared also exist, and the same applies to islamophobia, xenophobia and slavery. Many of them should be recognised as places of remembrance, or better organised and promoted as such.
The No Hate Alliance will continue to work on these themes, also in cooperation with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and traditional partners such as national parliaments and the No Hate Speech Campaign. All those who are aware of manifestations of hatred and discrimination in Europe should get involved. Pretending not to see and failing to take action, as History should have taught us, turns us into accomplices.