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Press Release – 16.03.2005

Council of Europe: ECRI presents new study on racist language in politics

Strasbourg, 17.03.2005 – The Council’s European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) is holding a high-level meeting in Paris on 21 March – the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – in order to present a new study on the use of racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric in election campaigns and other political circumstances.

ECRI will also make a public presentation of its new Declaration on the same issue during the meeting, which will take place in the presence of Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis, ECRI Chair Michael Head and Tana de Zulueta, member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

The study, carried out by political scientist Jean-Yves Camus, cites numerous cases in which European or national elections have given rise to the use of racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric.

According to the report, immigrants and refugees - especially those from Muslim countries - are the primary targets of politicians exploiting feelings of insecurity in an increasingly complex and multicultural world. “Most worryingly, the theory of a so-called clash of civilisations is gaining ground. At the same time, anti-Semitism continues to be encouraged either openly or in a coded manner by certain political leaders and parties.”

ECRI considers this increasing use of racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic language and ideas in political life - including by mainstream political parties – to be a worrying development which calls for urgent and concerted action.

Parliamentarians, representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations, and renowned experts in the field from all over Europe will therefore come together on this symbolic day to devise ways in which to respond effectively to the phenomenon and to bring it to the forefront of national and international debate.

The event, which will be entirely open to the press, will take place from 2.30pm to 5.30pm on Monday 21 March at the Council of Europe office in Paris (55, avenue Kléber).