In Europe, we are witnessing a rising tide of racism, xenophobia
and intolerance in various forms, which particularly affects immigrants,
Muslims, Jews and Roma. At least two principal factors appear to
have exacerbated this phenomenon: firstly, the economic crisis of
recent years, and secondly, the geopolitical instability of certain
countries in North Africa and the Middle East.
Racism currently manifests itself in new forms and does not
necessarily adhere to the concept of a hierarchy of “races”. What
can be observed is often a “race-less racism” based on the premise
that cultural differences are irreducible. Contemporary racism may
be more subtle, but it is as pernicious as traditional racism, since
its aim and effects are the same: it purports to explain and legitimise
discriminatory types of behaviour or speech and helps to fuel them.
Hate speech, increasingly widespread, especially in the political
sphere and on the Internet, is also a reason for concern. Politicians
should be aware of the effect of their words on public opinion and
should refrain from using any forms of discriminatory, insulting
or aggressive language about groups or categories of people.
As racism is a complex phenomenon and entails multiple factors,
the battle against it must be fought on multiple fronts. In addition
to legal instruments designed to prohibit and punish all expressions
of racism, including hate speech, we must fight intolerance using
cultural and social instruments. Education and information must
play a crucial part in training the public to respect ethnic, cultural
and religious diversity. Solidarity with the groups which are victims
of racism and targets of hate speech, and between these groups,
contributes significantly to countering racism and discrimination
in all their forms.