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13th Apr 2024

Frattini promotes intercultural dialogue against radicalisation

Justice commissioner Franco Frattini has said Europe should not fear Muslim immigration to the bloc and promoted children and education as the best ambassadors for understanding between different cultures in Europe.

"With dialogue we can eradicate abuse of religion and culture" the Italian commissioner told a conference dealing with the impact of migration on the co-existence between different cultures in Europe, held in Brussels on Wednesday (5 March).

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The debate was the first of six planned gatherings on intercultural dialogue that will be organized throughout 2008, with each debate taking a specific sectoral view on intercultural dialogue, such as media, arts and heritage, the workplace, inter-religious dialogue, education and youth, migration and integration.

Mr Frattini said his institution had already put forward a package of measures to make integration of migrants in the EU run more smoothly, such as an EU integration fund.

The commissioner also explained his view on fears of a future clash between the Muslim world and the West.

"There is no ongoing clash, there is perhaps a struggle between those who believe in freedom of religion but still understand the freedom of others, and those who interpret Islam wrongly and believe that only one religion should prevail", Mr Frattini stated, adding that tolerance and dialogue does not mean giving in to unlawful practices.

"We do not need to tolerate all foreigners. We cannot accept those who put in question the absolute value of human life, or the equality of men and women. I cannot tolerate the violation of individual rights", Frattini stated.

The commissioner also said that children were crucial to promoting fundamental values across the EU, and that education plays an important role in stopping radicalisation which leads to extremism and occasionally to terrorism.

According to a report from the Brussels-based Migration Policy Group think tank and the British Council from October last year, the bloc is not doing enough to integrate immigrants from outside Europe. In the report, EU countries rank as only "half way to best practice" for integrating immigrants into the national societies.

The report assessed immigrants' chances of participating in European societies by looking at areas such as labour market access; family reunion; long-term residence; political participation and protection from racism and discrimination.

I am not a foreigner

But members of a round-table discussion on migration and dialogue, said some of the words used by Mr Frattini signal exclusion rather than inclusion of non-ethnic Europeans into a European context of dialogue and mutual understanding.

"I would like to use the word ‘mobility' instead of ‘migration', and the word ‘cooperation' instead of ‘dialogue'" said Bashy Quraishy, chair of the advisory council of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR).

Mr Bashy said that even if he was in favour of dialogue, previous attempts to create fruitful dialogue has resulted only in a monologue where the majority tells the minority to change.

"Minorities do not have the power to ask for a dialogue based on mutual understanding. The majority has the key to the front door, not the minority", said Mr Bashy, a Danish resident since for over 25 years.

"The commissioner referred to us as ‘foreigners'. We are not foreigners, we are European", he added, and was echoed by Brussels-based but Pakistani-born journalist and moderator of the debate, Shada Islam.

"I am Pakistani and European," Ms Islam underlined.

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