The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) highlighted the vital role of education in combating intolerance and discrimination against Muslims during the Summer Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on 26 June 2012 in Strasbourg.
The meeting’s participants, including civil society representatives, examined how to develop educational policies and programmes to fight hatred, hostility and prejudice, with a view to addressing the root causes of intolerance against Muslims.
During the event, Floriane Hohenberg, the Head of ODIHR’s Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Department, presented the Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims, which were developed in co-operation with the Council of Europe and UNESCO.
Hohenberg told the meeting that, while the Guidelines are an important starting point in addressing intolerance against Muslims, educators need to have the competencies to teach about respect for diversity, and schools should be free of discrimination.
“The Guidelines should be complemented by other tools and activities, such as country-specific teaching materials, teacher-training programmes and anti-discriminatory policies in schools,” she said.
Sjur Bergan, the Head of the Education Department of the Council of Europe, stressed the importance of education in this area.
“Human beings are not born as tolerant democrats,” Bergan said. “Attitudes have to be learned and developed, which is why the Guidelines are an important instrument in preventing discrimination against Muslims.”
The session was co-hosted by the PACE's Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination and its Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media.
ODIHR, the Council of Europe and UNESCO will be presenting the Guidelines to educational authorities during a series of meetings in 2012.