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13 November 2011

Addressing Islamophobia through Education

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Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims

A new set of Guidelines for Educators to combat anti-Muslim prejudice, developed jointly by ODIHR, UNESCO and Council of Europe, was introduced during the opening session of the high level meeting co-organised in Vienna on 28 october by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Lithuanian OSCE Chairmanship. The purpose of this meeting was to explore the role that media and political representatives can play in promoting non-discrimination and mutual understanding, as well as raise awareness about .the extent and the impact of anti-Muslim expressions in public discourse identifying practical measures and good practice for participating States.

The conference gathered some 150 participants, including media professionals, civil society representatives and political representatives from across the OSCE area.

« The promotion of hatred, hostility and bigotry against certain groups based on their ethnic, national, religious or other characteristics runs counter to the core values of the OSCE community, » said the OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier.

« It is possible to overcome intolerance and discrimination only when all key actors engage and pool their efforts, » said Evaldas Ignatavičius, Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister in his opening address to the conference participants. « Unfortunately, we have seen too little leadership from the political sphere and from the media when Muslims were subject to assaults, » he added.

Janez Lenarčič, the Director of ODIHR, said: « The OSCE participating States have reaffirmed the commitment to protect and to promote freedom of expression and the right to equality, by stressing the positive role the media and political representatives can play in combating stereotypes. » and encouraged participants to make use of the Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims: Addressing Islamophobia through Education « The first of its kind, this document addresses the specific characteristics of intolerance against Muslims and provides practical guidance to educators on how to address this issue in the classroom, » Lenarčič said.

These Guidelines have been developed jointly by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Council of Europe and the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, including education experts, teachers, civil society representatives and governmental officers. They are intended to be a support in countering intolerance and discrimination against Muslims for education policy makers, teacher trainers, teachers and head teachers, professional associations, and members of NGOs in primary and secondary education but also in non-formal education settings.

The Guidelines describe different manifestations of intolerance and discrimination against Muslims as well as the strategies to be adopted in schools and the potential challenges. Finally the Guidelines present a chapter about ressources and information tools including useful websites, educational networks, publications and reports by international organizations. The EMU's website is indicated among the ONGs websites.

For the full text of these Guidelines: http://www.osce.org/odihr/84495?download=true

(Courtesy: Globalia Magazine)

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