Europe: Activists plan campaign against the use of racism to get votes
The international network United for Intercultural Action (UIA) wants to prevent the use of racism and xenophobia in the elections to the European Parliament next year. The group is planning to organize a campaign to prevent politicians from winning votes through slogans and suggestions that are anti-foreigner and anti-minority.
UIA told the press about their plans today. The form of the campaign will be created at the end of October by those participating in the UIA conference against racism.
"There is a crisis in almost every country, hatred is increasing, in many places neo-Nazis and other extremists are marching through the streets. An atmosphere of fear is being created and new walls are being erected. Populists are exploiting this fear. They are giving simple answers to complex questions," UIA director Geert Ates said.
According to Ates, the situation in Europe is gradually deteriorating, with local residents and some parties joining the extremists and politicians exploiting anti-immigrant and anti-minority sentiment. Activists are concerned that more populists could be elected to the EP and that they might create their own faction.
Ates believes more populist representation at the EP would make it easier to advocate for various proposals "about evictions" or various kinds of bans. An international conference will be held between 25 and 30 October near Prague to contribute toward the creation of the anti-populist campaign.
Organizers of the conference are keeping its location a secret for now. Reportedly they want to ensure security for the event and prevent any eventual clashes with extremists.
The meeting is expecting 90 people from 30 countries to participate. Organizers say there will be experts from various European institutions as well as human rights defenders in attendance.
The program will also familiarize those attending with the situation in the Czech Republic. It will focus on the recent anti-Romani marches that have taken place in many towns there.
The Czech section of the UIA network sent out a 14-page call at the start of September asking people to sign a charter for a non-racist Europe. Politicians who join its "code of ethics" will pledge not to support animosity and prejudices against foreigners and minorities during their campaigns.
The politicians are asked to pledge not to collaborate with those who feed off of racial hatred. They are also asked to contribute toward recruiting minority members into their parties.
The campaign itself is also meant to embody principles of equality. So far only one movement has responded to the drafters of the ethics code and the communists have previously signed the charter.
United for Intercultural Action was created in 1992 as a European network of organizations against fascism, nationalism and racism and in support of immigrants, which now includes around 560 associations from 48 states. Miroslav Prokeš, the UIA coordinator for Central and Eastern Europe, says around 40 organizations in the Czech Republic have joined the network.
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