The important role of education in countering intolerance against Muslims was the theme of a meeting of representatives of education ministries and educational institutions organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Vienna on 6 September 2012.
Experts from OSCE field operations in South-Eastern Europe and intergovernmental organizations also participated in the event. ODIHR presented Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims, which were developed in co-operation with the Council of Europe and UNESCO.
“The Guidelines are a practical tool to assist educators in promoting tolerance in schools,” said Taskin Tankut Soykan, ODIHR’s Adviser on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims. “They help to develop effective educational policies that can lead to greater respect for different cultures, religions or beliefs, thereby countering prejudice.”
Rolf Gollob from the Zurich University of Teacher Education, said that stereotypes and misunderstandings about Muslims are typical symptoms of a widespread lack of adequate knowledge. “Teachers are the first line of defence against intolerance and discrimination, and the Guidelines recognize that teachers can play a central role in shaping the behaviour and attitude of young people,” he added.
As well as sharing their experiences and lessons learned in tackling discrimination in educational settings, participants also made recommendations on how to support efforts by participating States to combat intolerance against Muslims through education. These recommendations are available here.