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Strasbourg, 10 June 2011







Comments by the Steering Committee on the Media and New Communication Services (CDMC) on Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1962 (2011)
on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue



    1. The CDMC welcomes the Recommendation 1962 (2011) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue. The recommendation considers an issue which is highly topical in pluralist Europe and in the globalised world today – the effective dialogue between various individuals, groups, communities and faiths. Interreligious dialogue represents an important dimension of intercultural dialogue as conscience and religion are components of culture and constitute the basis of spiritual life in society.

    2. The CDMC shares the opinion that Europe is multicultural and multi-religious but that common values such as human rights, respect for human dignity, tolerance and the acceptance that differences are normal, and the vision of a common future, need to be further strengthened. Respect for, and promotion of, cultural diversity are essential conditions for the development of societies based on solidarity. Intercultural dialogue allows the prevention of ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural divides and enables people to move forward together, and to deal with their different identities constructively and democratically, on the basis of shared universal values.

    3. The CDMC wishes to stress the importance of the respect of freedom of expression for a fruitful exchange on religious aspects in intercultural dialogue. Successful intercultural dialogue requires many of the attitudes fostered by a democratic culture – such as open-mindedness, willingness to engage in dialogue and allow others to express their point, a capacity to resolve conflicts by peaceful means and recognition of the well-founded arguments of others. Many of these attitudes depend on the freedom of expression. The CDMC underlines that respect for freedom of expression guarantees non-domination and is essential to ensure that dialogue is governed by the force of argument rather than the argument of force.

    4. The Assembly rightly insists on the need for everyone to learn to share their differences positively. The CDMC would emphasise that this highly desirable goal can be supported by the active involvement of the media as a core partner in a complex process.

    5. The positive contribution of the media to the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue has already been confirmed during the Council of Europe conference on ''Media, beliefs and religion'', considering the role of the media in fostering intercultural dialogue, tolerance and mutual understanding, freedom of expression of the media and respect towards cultural and religious diversity, held in Ohrid on 13-14 September 2010. The CDMC recalls that the forum in Ohrid reiterated the crucial and multifarious role the media plays in enhancing intercultural and interreligious dialogue in democratic societies and strengthening social cohesion. This dialogue expands between various churches, believers and non-believers and between religious communities and civil society including humanist projects and movements.

    6. Media can support new educational systems aiming at building knowledge and understanding of the various cultures and religions in society.

    7. Though all the media exercise a public function, public service media (PSM) have a particular obligation to encourage intercultural and interreligious dialogue and foster social cohesion as a component of their public service remit. The CDMC underlines the essential role of PSMs in integrating all communities, social groups and generations and promoting better understanding and trust among peoples in an era of globalisation, migration and integration, as expressed in the CM Recommendation CM/Rec (2007) 3 on the remit of public service media in the information society.

    8. Community media can play an important role in expanding the intercultural dialogue at local and regional level. Community media allow for democratic participation of various groups and minorities, including religious groups.

    9. The CDMC wishes to stress the public service value of the Internet and its tremendous contribution to diversity and dialogue through the new information and communication technologies. New media and Internet in particular offer unprecedented opportunities for intensifying communication and exchange among cultures, for active creation and participation and can serve as an effective tool for achieving understanding and tolerance in the religious sphere as well.