On behalf of all members of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and at the initiative of AER President Ms Hande Özsan Bozatli and Mr Jean-Claude Gayssot, AER Vice President, former French minister and instigator of the French law against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, the following statement has been issued.
Deeply shocked by the tragic events which took place in Paris on January 7th 2015 against the French magazine Charlie Hebdo and with deep sorrow for the horrors which followed all along the 2 days after, we express our sympathy and solidarity to the victims, their families and to all citizens of France and wider Europe who were touched by these terrorist attacks.
It is with respect and re-assurance that we saw millions of citizens worldwide stand firm and march for democracy, humanism and progress on Sunday 11 January.
Bearing in mind the high importance granted all core European and we hope universal values, and underlining the severe breach of fundamental international rights which are the freedom of expression, the freedom of press and the inherent right to life of every human being, AER – now more than ever – stands strong on its position in the fight against terrorism, racism and xenophobia. Acts of such severe violence and hate are direct attacks on the values which Europe and AER hold dearly and which can never be eradicated. The worrisome evolution of extremism in new and unpredictable ways has become the main challenge for all international, national and regional actors.
No region, nor country, are immune from its effects. No region nor country can be weak nor find room for compromise in the anti-terrorist fight. An attack on any citizen anywhere in the world, is also a direct attack on humanity as a whole.
AER firmly condemns all acts of terror, whatever religious, political or ideological reasons are used to justify them. AER also hopes that such acts will not give further reason to the rise of extremism, islamophobia and hate speeches across the globe.
The fight against terrorism is not only a matter of national and international security, justice and intelligence. The roots and ways hate speech and behaviour develop can also be fought at a regional level within regional government’s competencies. Policies tackling youth, education, economic development, equal opportunities, equal access to health and the job market have an impact on the way citizens feel integrated. The less angry and embittered our citizens feel, the less likely they will be to look for ways to fight society.
We call on all AER member regions to act directly on the policies they are responsible for and that can make a difference and to spread this statement as widely as possible. The immediate reactions and successful movement which took place throughout France and the World after the tragedies are proof that together, we are indeed stronger.