Risoluzione 15 aprile 2008, n.1605
European Muslim communities confronted with extremism
Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly. Resolution 1605 (2008): “European Muslim communities confronted with extremism”. (Provisional edition) (*)
1. The attacks in Paris in 1995, New York in 2001, the subsequent spate of bombings which hit Madrid and Istanbul in 2003 and London in 2005, and the prevention of many other terrorist plots on European soil have made evident the extent and gravity of the threat of terrorism performed by people who invoke Islamic fundamentalism as a source of inspiration. In addition to the shock caused by the attacks, it has been disconcerting for many to realise that some young Muslims, who were born and brought up in Europe, had been involved in their organisation and execution.
2. The Parliamentary Assembly warns against any confusion between Islam as a faith and Islamic fundamentalism as an ideology. Islam is the second religion in Europe and a constituent component of European societies: in some Council of Europe member states, it is traditionally the religion professed by the majority of the population; in others, it is the religion of the majority of immigrants and of citizens with an immigrant background, who represent a growing proportion of the population. Islamic fundamentalism, instead, is an extremist ideology with a political agenda, which promotes a model of society which is not compatible with human rights values and standards of democracy, and which, in its worst form, calls for the use of violence to achieve its aims.
3 It is regrettable but undeniable that, at the moment, Islamic fundamentalism as an ideology has proved to have a potential of attraction for some individuals. European governments and European Muslim communities should work hand in hand, in full cooperation and synergy, to reduce this potential of attraction and prevent it from escalating into terrorism.
4. The Assembly congratulates those Muslim leaders, opinion-makers and organisations who have firmly and unequivocally condemned terrorism inspired by Islamic fundamentalism as well as other extremist manifestations, such as the hate speech pronounced by some official or self-appointed Imams or other Muslim personalities. Similarly, the Assembly commends the efforts deployed by Muslim organisations to highlight the compatibility between Islam as a religion and democratic and human rights values as well as for their work with groups that are more at risk of radicalisation, such as young people and detainees.
5. In parallel to these efforts, European governments bear a special responsibility in addressing the root causes which create a fertile ground for extremism, such as poverty, discrimination and social exclusion; in ensuring full respect of the freedoms of thought, speech and religion, as laid down in the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as in contributing to a climate in which all religious faiths, or the absence of any faith, are equally respected. In this regard, Council of Europe member states should continue to be vigilant to prevent and combat the phenomenon of Islamophobia.
6. Moreover, Council of Europe member states should take a range of positive measures to enable migrants and citizens of migrant descent, including Muslim communities, to integrate into society through non-discriminatory access to employment, to education, to vocational training, to housing and to public services. Engagement and active participation of migrants and persons with migrant background in society also need encouragement and support from mainstream society that has to do more to accommodate diversity and remove barriers to integration.
7. Likewise, as already recommended by the Assembly, European governments, aiming at a citizenship of inclusiveness and participation, should remedy the current limited capacity of immigrants and citizens from an immigrant background to play an active role in public and political life. In the long term, this state of affairs, which is due both to legislative and social constraints, cannot but reinforce the grievance and sense of injustice of a part of the population.
8. The Assembly welcomes the initiative taken by the governments of two member states, Spain and Turkey, to create the Alliance of Civilisations, and its endorsement by the UN Secretary-General, who designated former Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio as High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations. The Assembly also expresses support for the activities so far undertaken in this context.
9. In light of the above, the Assembly calls on the member states of the Council of Europe to:
9.1. act strongly against discrimination in all areas;
9.2. condemn and combat Islamophobia;
9.3. act resolutely against hate speech and all other forms of behaviour which run counter to core human rights and democratic values, even when their authors seek to justify them on religious grounds;
9.4. combat all forms of discrimination and violence (particularly forced marriages, sexual mutilation of women, so-called “honour crimes”) which, in the name of misinterpreted religious texts or customs, violate the fundamental rights of women and equality between women and men;
9.5. combat all forms of cultural or religious relativism which justify discriminatory practices and human rights violations directed at women or other groups in society;
9.6. ensure the strictest compliance with human rights and the rule of law in the enforcement of anti-terrorist measures;
9.7. promote the social cohesion, integration, political and civic participation of immigrants and citizens with an immigrant background, including women, amongst others by:
9.7.1. taking a range of positive measures to enable migrants and persons with migrant background to integrate into society through fair and non-discriminatory access to employment, to education, to vocational training, to housing in mixed areas, to public services and ultimately through democratic participation by citizenship;
9.7.2. developing specific activities for integration and tolerance building among young people;
9.7.3. signing and ratifying the European Convention on the legal status of migrant workers (ETS No. 93);
9.7.4. granting lawfully residing immigrants the right to vote and to be elected, at least in local and regional elections, so as to have an impact on local government and public administration;
9.7.5. signing and ratifying the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (ETS No. 144);
9.7.6. encouraging the participation of people with an immigrant background in political parties, trade unions and non-governmental organisations;
9.7.7. taking all the necessary measures to eliminate the inequality of opportunity faced by the immigrants, including inadequate education and unemployment;
9.7.8. removing unnecessary legal or administrative obstacles to the construction of sufficient numbers of appropriate places of worship for the practice of Islam;
9.7.9. ensuring that school textbooks do not portray Islam as hostile or threatening;
9.8. promote and support activities intending to increase the standing and the role of Muslim women in Europe and overcome stereotypes confining them to subordinate and passive roles, e.g. through appropriate teaching in schools and awareness-raising campaigns in the media;
9.9. monitor the role played by foreign states in the financing of mosques and appointment of Imams, in order to ensure that these actions are not used to promote extremist views;
9.10. support the establishment of courses, if possible at University level, to train Imams locally;
9.11. encourage a public and inclusive debate over the consequences of their foreign policy on radicalisation;
9.12. encourage informative projects about Islam’s contribution to Western societies in order to overcome the stereotypes on Islam.
10. The Assembly calls on the leaders and opinion-makers to act responsibly to avoid encouraging discrimination and islamophobia.
11. Furthermore, the Assembly calls on European Muslim organisations, leaders and opinion-makers to:
11.1. act with a high sense of responsibility in their public statements and condemn unequivocally terrorism and extremism, being aware of their influence on Muslim communities;
11.2. encourage Muslims to fully participate in society while accepting the secular character of the society and the institutions of the country where they live;
11.3. formally endorse the European Convention on Human Rights;
11.4. promote the transmission of core European values within Muslim communities, and among young people in particular, by highlighting their compatibility with the Muslim faith;
11.5. ensure the teaching of core European values also in Muslim faith schools;
11.6. encourage young European Muslims to become Imams;
11.7. if appropriate in co-operation with other organisations, or local or other authorities, set up projects aimed at reducing the risk of radicalisation amongst the young generation and in prisons;
11.8. encourage the promotion of a fair coverage of Muslim reality and views in the media and ensure that the voice of moderate Muslims is also reported;
11.9. in co-operation with appropriate media organisations, work at the elaboration of ethical guidelines for the media in the fight against Islamophobia and in favour of cultural tolerance and understanding;
11.10. encourage the development of a secular intelligentsia.
(*) Assembly debate on 15 April 2008 (13th Sitting) (see Doc. 11540, report of the Political Affairs Committee, rapporteur: Mr João Bosco Mota Amaral; Doc. 11575, opinion of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population, rapporteur: Mr Hakki Keskin; Doc. 11570, opinion of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, rapporteur: Mr Mehmet Tekelioğlu; and Doc. 11569, opinion of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, rapporteur: Mrs Gisela Wurm). Text adopted by the Assembly on 15 April 2008 (13th Sitting).