In de Raad van Europa kwam ik tussen op het debat over Europese waarden. Deze waarden komen alsmaar meer in het gedrang, door xenofobie, antisemitisme en islamofobie. Het enige juiste antwoord hierop is humanistisch en inclusief. We moeten íedereen beschermen en onze fundamentele waarden verdedigen als we Europa opnieuw betekenis willen geven.

Meer info over het actueel debat ‘European values under threat: addressing rising xenophobia, antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe’ vind je hier.

Mijn tussenkomst in het Engels lees je hier:

I very much welcome this debate, because it allows us – the Assembly of the most powerful human rights institution in the world – to state a few things clearly.

The Pew Research Centre found that Muslims faced hostility, including hate speech, vandalism and physical assaults, in 71% of European countries in 2015. In the same year, Jews faced the same hostility in 73% of European countries. For both groups, these figures are rising annually.

The wave of terrorist attacks all over the world in the name of Islam has caused many Europeans to believe that we are at war with the Islamic faith and with all people who adhere to it. This belief shakes the foundations of the universal human rights system, which is founded on the principles of mutual respect and dignity for all human beings around the globe.

It does not matter if we are Christians, Buddhists, secular, Jews, Muslims or any combination of these; if we stick to the false belief that it is “us” against “the others”, we will end up at war with our own principles, and at war with our European identity, which is, and must be, fundamentally humanist and inclusive.

Let me state very clearly on behalf of the Socialist Group that we are not at war with people who adhere to a different religion, or have a different nationality or skin colour. We should rather be at war with falsehoods, because these prevent people from seeing the world in a nuanced way, which drives them to blind hatred and political extremism in all possible forms and on all sides. We must be at war with poverty, inequality and the economic crisis, because these diminish people’s hope for a better future and cause anger towards anybody who is different.

UNICEF Innocenti launched #ChildrenOfAusterity this month, getting to the heart of the problem; the institute’s new research shows that families with children and youngsters were hit harder than any other social group by the economic crisis in Europe. Not only is there more poverty in this group, but the severity of that poverty is the worst that we have seen in decades on this continent. Poverty is linked to a lack of education and ignorance, which in turn leads to electoral turmoil, terrorism, discrimination, conflict and violence.

Let us not forget that we are at war with climate change, too. The long drought of 2006 to 2010 was among the factors that helped to ignite the Arab Spring. Misery and hunger pave the way for terrorist rebels such as Daesh, leaving their regions, and ours, with the disastrous political instability that we now have to deal with.

Colleagues, I am telling you this because I hope that you see what I see: that we have to change the story and the enemy, and that we have to stand for all if we do not want to stand for nothing.