FYEG Campaign against Xenophobia

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Xenophobia is not a very fashionable word. Xenophobia is ugly and bad and mean and nobody wants to be called a xenophobe. But when was the last time you hanged on to your bag tighter when passing by a group of Roma on the street? When was the last time you feared expressing a friend of yours would show his or her homosexuality in the company of your parents? When was the last time you decided not to walk at night through a part of the town where a poor minority community lives? And when was the last time that the security in the airport checked somebody twice more seriously because they looked or were of Arab origins? Well, yes, then maybe there’s just a bit of xenophobia all around as well.

The Federation of Young European Greens sees that we are living in a society that is inclined towards xenophobia, even if the very same society proclaims itself to be very tolerant. And we are of the opinion that this has to be changed. This is the origins of “Unity in Diversity”, a campaign aimed at fighting xenophobia. The campaign is part of a wider campaign on diversity, run by the Council of Europe, under the title All Different, All Equal.

The campaign focuses both on political work at European level, as well as on a lot of local actions, involving different communities. An important objective is to reach out to communities that are predisposed to being discriminated against, such as minority communities or migrants and refugees. Raising awareness on discriminatory practices and offering models for fighting such discrimination are also two of the main objectives.

The Campaign has officially begun in August 2006, once the website unityindiversity.org was launched. The website is the main information tool that the campaign uses and it is the best way to keep in touch with the development of our activities. So, if you feel like joining this initiative, but do not know where to start from, just log on to the web!

Action Week

The biggest event that has taken place within the Unity in Diversity framework has been a European wide Action Week against xenophobia. 13 organisations from Europe and Northern Africa, member organisations of FYEG and not only, have joined this activity by initiating local actions on the topic of xenophobia between the 2nd and the 8th of October. Local activities were very diverse in form, from photo exhibitions in Serbia, to diversity workshops in Andorra, concerts in Germany and Greece, ethnic meals in Malta, street actions in Romania and the list can go on. The common ground of these activities was the belief that raising awareness about xenophobic practices is the first step in combating such manifestations. The relatively high attendance in the Action Week proved that the topic of the campaign has been well chosen, as it generates high interest in various parts of Europe. At this point, FYEG is conducting a follow-up of the Action Week, so that we learn from our mistakes and acknowledge our successes.

Projects and promotion

For this campaign, FYEG has also printed promotional materials, such as postcards and stickers that you can view and download from the website. We are hoping to have t-shirts and leaflets ready soon as well. If you want to run an action on the topic of the campaign and need promotional seminars as part of this campaign in order to facilitate a better cultural understanding and to develop the knowledge and skills of young people on several topics strictly related to fighting xenophobia. In July, a first exchange took place in Lisbon and it constituted in an “Inter-religious Dialogue” which brought 50 participants of different religious backgrounds closer to understanding the similarities and differences of their beliefs and to acknowledging that religion should not be transformed into a basis for conflict. The next exchange will be this winter in Istanbul and it will focus on the topic of Islamophobia, a very current and urgent problem in many European societies.

The campaign team is now working on developing further Unity in Diversity activities, including photo material, we will be happy to send you postcards and stickers, if you let us know in time.

Seminars and trainings

Another dimension of this campaign is the youth training part. FYEG will organise a series of exchanges and seminars as part of this campaign in order to facilitate a better cultural understanding and to develop the knowledge and skills of young people on several topics strictly related to fighting xenophobia. In July, a first exchange took place in Lisbon and it constituted in an “Inter-religious Dialogue” which brought 50 participants of different religious backgrounds closer to understanding the similarities and differences of their beliefs and to acknowledging that religion should not be transformed into a basis for conflict. The next exchange will be this winter in Istanbul and it will focus on the topic of Islamophobia, a very current and urgent problem in many European societies.

The campaign team is now working on developing further Unity in Diversity activities, including a foto graphy contest, but you will have to follow-up closely in order to find out what surprises are being prepared for you.

If you are convinced by now that we are on the right track, then you have no excuse for not joining this campaign! And if you think that we are still missing something, again, you have no excuse for not joining and bringing us on the right track. So, either way, Unity is Diversity is expecting your input against xenophobia.

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