Author(s): Parliamentary Assembly - Council of Europe
Origin: Assembly debate on 23 June 2010 (23rd Sitting) (see Doc. 12266, report of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, rapporteur: Mr Mogens Jensen; Doc. 12303, opinion of the Political Affairs Committee, rapporteur: Mr Hancock; Doc. 12305, opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur: Mr Rafael Huseynov; and Doc. 12304, opinion of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, rapporteur: Mrs Memecan). Text adopted unanimously by the Assembly on 23 June 2010 (23rd Sitting).
Eurovoc: DEMOCRACY, RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION, HUMAN RIGHTS, EUROPE, ISLAM, RULE OF LAW, MUSLIM.
1. Referring to its Resolution 1743 (2010) on Islam, Islamism and Islamophobia in Europe, the Parliamentary Assembly emphasises the particular importance for the Council of Europe and its member states of increasing their action in this field. Under its Statute, it is a priority task for the Council of Europe to work towards ensuring freedom of thought, conscience and religion while combating religious intolerance and discrimination as well as religiously disguised attacks against the values it upholds. Member states should be guided by this recommendation and Resolution 1743 (2010).
2. In order to construct on a daily basis a democratic society governed by the rule of law and universal human rights, the Council of Europe must step up its efforts to embed those values in European culture. Cultural and educational action by the Council of Europe is a necessary condition for both European integration based on common values and full understanding and respect for human rights, including political, social and cultural rights and freedoms. The Council of Europe should also seek to encourage other parts of the world to adopt and promote the values it upholds.
3. Because of its Statute, geographical remit and experience, the Council of Europe should serve as the pan-European forum for discussing common strategies for strengthening democratic stability faced with Islamism, Islamophobia and other forms of political extremism in Europe. Therefore, the Assembly asks that the Committee of Ministers:
3.1. ensure, through the general budget and voluntary contributions, that adequate funding is available for standard-setting and assistance and co-operation activities for member states and neighbouring regions in the fields of culture and education as well as migration and refugees;
3.2. reinforce its activities to ensure that knowledge about Islam and other beliefs is taught at school and through lifelong education and that institutions of higher education and research in Europe provide Islamic studies in order to educate religious scholars, teachers and leaders;
3.3. seek to enlarge geographically the Council of Europe treaties in the field of culture and education by opening them for signature by non-member states, in particular states from Eurasia, North Africa and the Middle East; this is particularly important with regard to the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (ETS No. 165), the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (CETS No. 199) and the European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ETS No. 132) and its Amending Protocol (ETS No. 171);
3.4. study the possibility of opening the geographical scope of the European Cultural Convention (ETS No. 18) to non-European states, for instance by drafting a protocol on education for human rights and democracy to this convention;
3.5. actively seek accession by states in North Africa and the Middle East to the Council of Europe’s European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity (North-South Centre) and, in particular, reinforce the programmes dealing with gender equality, specifically the combating of all forms of violence against women and the promotion of women’s participation in public decision making. In this context, the Assembly welcomes the accession of Morocco and Cape Verde to the North-South Centre;
3.6. consider opening the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) to participation by non-member states, in particular from North Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia;
3.7. consider opening the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities (ETS No. 106) for signature by non-member states, in particular from North Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia;
3.8. set up joint programmes of activities of the Council of Europe with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations;
3.9. continue its important action on intercultural dialogue and its religious dimension, in particular its regular “exchanges on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue”, and further the involvement of the Assembly in order to enhance the role of interparliamentary co-operation in this process;
3.10. call on member states which have not already done so to sign and ratify the European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers (ETS No. 93) and the Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (ETS No. 144); the social and political inclusion of migrants and foreigners, who are often Muslims, will be essential for democratic cohesion and stability;
3.11. seek to develop common political approaches by all member states towards non-European states which support Islamism in Europe and call, in this context, on member states which have not yet done so to sign and ratify the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism (ETS No. 90) and its Amending Protocol (ETS No. 190) and the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (CETS No. 196) in order to strengthen political and legal co-operation in this area;
3.12. call on Switzerland to enact a moratorium on, and to repeal as soon as possible, its general prohibition on the construction of minarets for mosques, which discriminates against Muslim communities under Articles 9 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5); the construction of minarets must be possible in the same way as the construction of church towers, subject to the requirements of public security and town planning;
3.13. call on member states not to establish a general ban of full veiling or other religious or special clothing, but to protect women from all physical and psychological duress as well as to protect their free choice to wear religious or special clothing and ensure equal opportunities for Muslim women to participate in public life and pursue education and professional activities; legal restrictions on this freedom may be justified where necessary in a democratic society, in particular for security purposes or where public or professional functions of individuals require their religious neutrality or that their face can be seen;
3.14. step up efforts to ensure that a convention to combat violence against women, including domestic violence, comes into being as swiftly as possible;
3.15. invite states to guarantee women’s freedom of expression by penalising, on the one hand, all forms of coercion, oppression or violence that compel women to wear the veil or the full veil, and by creating, on the other hand, social and economic conditions enabling women to make informed choices though the promotion of genuine policies on equal opportunities for women and men which embody access to education, training, employment and housing.