'We must stay vigilant against new forms of intolerance'

Following a two-day visit to Germany (2-3 March), Milena Santerini (Italy, SOC) has called for greater vigilance regarding movements such as Pegida and Legida, which spread the belief that people of different cultures and religions cannot live together in our countries. In particular, Ms Santerini closely observed a Legida demonstration in Leipzig. “Even though these movements only attract a limited number of participants, they should still not be underestimated,” she said.

“These manifestations of neo-racism are, above all, the expression of public unease: international instability has led to a significant increase in numbers of migrants, who end up being scapegoats.

During the meetings I held, the German authorities showed strong determination to promote integration and prevent the rise in xenophobia. These trends demand that the authorities and civil society build a more mature democracy and improve political communication.

In all European countries, measures to prevent and combat racism of all kinds need to be taken on an ongoing basis. Intercultural and civic education, the memory of the tragic consequences of intolerance, and objective information about the situation of migrants and foreigners in our countries should play a key part in policies against hatred,” said Ms Santerini, who is currently preparing a report on “Recognising and preventing neo-racism” for the PACE.