On Anti-Racism Day, Gabriela Heinrich takes aim at populism and nationalism

Gabriela Heinrich (Germany, SOC), PACE’s General Rapporteur on combating racism and intolerance, has targeted European leaders who stir populist or nationalist sentiment in a statement to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Racial Discrimination (21 March 2019).

Populist, nationalist and racist ideologies represent serious threats to democracy and peaceful living together in Europe. Their harmful impact should never be underestimated,” she said.

“Exploiting fear and prejudice for political gain, populists challenge democratic institutions and principles. Nationalists denigrate international institutions and fall short of their obligations to uphold human rights, in the name of purported national identity and values.” 

She continued: “Racism and other forms of intolerance, including antisemitism, anti-gypsyism and islamophobia, are becoming ever more normalised, accompanied by a parallel and worrying rise in hate crimes. Hatred increasingly permeates political discourse, targeting vulnerable individuals and groups, damaging the social fabric and further nurturing prejudice.”

“On the International Day for the Eradication of Racial Discrimination, I call on European leaders, policy makers and legislators to take action against racism and intolerance in all its forms, starting with negative stereotyping, stigmatising language and verbal abuse. Freedom of expression comes with responsibilities and limits, which nobody, including actors in the political arena, under any political pretext, must exceed.”