On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March), Gabriela Heinrich (Germany, SOC), General Rapporteur on combating racism and intolerance made the following statement:
“A wave of hatred, xenophobia and racism is hitting Europe. The increase in racially motivated hate crimes and the use of racist rhetoric in the public discourse, including during electoral campaigns in various Council of Europe member States, are reasons for serious concern. Moreover, condemnation of racism is no longer unanimous. Surfed by populists, racist attitudes are gradually being absorbed and almost unconsciously accepted by a part of the public. Hate speech abounds on social media and racial prejudice is one of its main motives.
It takes more courage today to speak up and take action against racism than it used to just a few years ago. However, react against it we must and without delay. We owe it to ourselves, our conscience and the values of freedom and equality that we so often profess, to spare no effort in the fight against this wave of racism.
I call on fellow politicians, media professionals, social media providers and users, and all citizens, to be courageous and fight racism – now. Fight against manipulation of news, misinformation and disinformation. Fight ignorance, endeavour to debunk myths that encourage hatred, and use every opportunity to promote knowledge and understanding of diversity.
This is a difficult combat which may come at a cost, not only in terms of personal commitment but also in terms of votes, clicks, or viewers. But it will pay off in the long run."