Hate Speech, Xenophobia and Nationalism in Europe
Yet again this year, young professionals from the fields of politics, the economy, culture and civil society in Central, Southeast and Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia came together for a face-to-face seminar under the Promoting Tolerance Programme. The prominent programme is a joint effort of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s (FNF) Regional Office for East and Southeast Europe (ESEE) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and was inaugurated in 1992 with the goal of strengthening democracy, pluralism and minority rights in the region.
After an introductory online phase on minority issues, the principles of international understanding and the foundations of human and civil rights, participants got together in June for a two-day seminar in Tbilisi, Georgia.
The programme’s leading theme this year is dealing with hate speech, xenophobia and hard-line nationalism. These are high on the liberal agenda, given current developments in Europe. The growing dimensions of hate speech and its links to extreme nationalism are without any doubt a huge challenge for liberal democracies and the principle of freedom, and require strong liberal counteractions.
Rabbi Andrew Baker, the AJC’s Director of International Jewish Affairs and Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-In-Office and Dr. Rainer Adam, Regional Director of FNF ESEE welcomed this year’s participants and opened the international seminar.
Shorena Kobaidze, Programme Coordinator with the ‘Minority Rights Group Europe’ in Tbilisi and 2015 programme alumna, gave an introduction into the topic and presented an overview of the current situation, as well as some examples of nationalist politics in the South Caucasus. Participants from Central and Eastern Europe referred to their own experience with hate speech in their respective countries, its nature and origin. The objective of subsequent discussions and exercises was to establish possible ways of countering hate speech and debate aggressive nationalist trends. The seminar highlighted specifically the inconsistency of nationalist attitudes with liberal values, various forms of counteracting, concrete arguments and the essentials of liberal reasoning. Targeted implementation of all discussed approaches within liberal organizations’ decision-making process in the participants’ respective home countries remains an important task for them after the meeting in Tbilisi.
The third phase of this year’s Promoting Tolerance Programme consists of a 10-day study trip for participants to the United States, to take place in November. At the AJC’s invitation, the group will visit several U.S. cities and discuss the American experience with pluralism and minority integration with representatives of political, religious and civil society organisations.
Stay tuned for the series "Voices of Tolerance", featuring some of this year's fellows of Promoting Tolerance.
Find more photos from the event:
Coordinator for Regional Dialogue Programmes & Project Management
East Europe and Southeast Europe (ESEE) Regional Office