The Council of Europe has launched an alarm over the growth in racism and violence against minorities and NGOs in Europe, fed by ultra-nationalism, antisemitism, and hate against Muslims.
The 2019 annual report by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) cites ultra-nationalism, antisemitism, anti-Muslim hatred, and a distorted use of social media and artificial intelligence as trends experiencing constant and worrisome growth.
The report, released on February 27, said that forms of racism and violence are not only targeted against those deemed "different", but also against NGOs.
"Europe is facing a shocking reality: antisemitic, anti-Muslim and other racist hate crimes are increasing at an alarming rate," said Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe. "We must stop the dissemination of toxic rhetoric from racist extremists which strikes at the very heart of our democracies," she said.
'Ultra-nationalist and xenophobic politics have made themselves heard'
In 2019, as in recent years, "the negative influence of ultra-nationalistic and xenophobic politics has made itself heard, on various levels, in the majority of European countries," ECRI President Maruia Marouda told ANSA, adding that "unfortunately Italy is no exception."
The ECRI report said mainstream political parties adopted restrictive policies with regard to migration and integration that had previously been associated with right-wing ultra-nationalist parties.
However, in order to realistically evaluate the spread of their ideas, ECRI said that it's not enough to just look at the number of seats gained by ultra-nationalistic parties in parliamentary, national or EU-wide elections.
Antisemitism gains ground
Regarding antisemitism, Marouda said: "ECRI has effectively observed that in recent years it is gaining ground in a certain number of countries."
The Strasbourg organization said growing antisemitism is due mainly to widespread rhetoric "by neo-Nazis and political extremists", demonstrated also by the attacks in Germany last October in Halle and two weeks ago in Hanau.
"But ECRI observed that this same rhetoric is also propaganda by some religious extremists, such as Islamists, and that also in this case it led to dramatic events in some countries over the course of the last ten years".