justice, peace and creation

Churches in Europe:

Initiatives to overcome racism, xenophobia and racial violence

Dossier 1: Germany and Austria

January 2001

In Europe we are witnessing a disturbing new upsurge of racial violence in certain countries. "In 1999 murder and attempted murder on racial, ethnic, religious or cultural grounds were reported in the national mass media in Austria, France, Spain, Sweden and the UK." During this same year, "there was an increase in the number of recorded racial crimes associated with neo-Nazi groups in Germany and Sweden. In Germany there was a decrease in the total number of criminal offences, but an increase in violent attacks. Racial violence associated with neo-Nazis and skinheads has also been reported in Spain and Portugal where these groups were identified as being responsible for much of the racial violence."

It is in this context that the World Council of Churches (WCC), specifically its team "Justice, Peace and Creation" which includes the "Programme to Combat Racism", decided to undertake a new project on "Churches in Europe: initiatives to overcome racism, xenophobia and racial violence".

The purpose of this project was to find out about church initiatives in the struggle against racial violence in four European countries: Austria, Germany, Great Britain and France. In the second phase of the project, the results of the research were to be gathered together in a brief publication. This report would be presented to a meeting of the WCC Central Committee, to emphasise and highlight the various initiatives in order to strengthen the churches’ commitment, to encourage the sharing of ideas and to bring about cooperation among the different active groups.

This project is part of the wider effort of the Ecumenical Decade to Overcome Violence, to be launched in February 2001, and of the WCC’s contribution to the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Associated Intolerance, to be held in September 2001.

Churches in Europe:
Initiatives to overcome racism, xenophobia and racial violence

Table of Contents
  • Introduction: Germany
  • Context Germany
  • "Invite Your Neighbours" ("Lade deine Nachbarn ein")
  • "Foreign Citizens Week" ("Woche der ausländischen Mitbürger")
  • EKD Internet action against anti-Semitism
  • Work with the police ("Grüne gehen fremd - Fremde sehen grün")
  • "Steps Against Violence" ("Schritte gegen Tritte")
  • Working with young people
  • The integration of "difficult" young people into music and dance groups
  • The courageous work of Pastor Christian Weber
  • Some other initiatives by the churches
  • Federation of German Protestant Women
  • The Protestant church in the Province of Saxony
  • Some examples of alliances and activities in which the churches work together with other official agencies and non-governmental organisations
  • Alliance for Tolerance and Civic Courage Against Violence and Xenophobia (Bündnis Für Toleranz und Zivilcourage - Gegen Gewalt und Fremdenfeindlichkeit)
  • Demonstration in Berlin against Racism and Anti-Semitism, 9 November 2000
  • The "Emergency Entrance" campaign ("Aktion Noteingang") and "Cottbus Refuge" ("Cottbuser Zuflucht")
  • Anti-racist initiative ("Antirassistische Initiative e.V" - ARI)
  • Austria
  • Context Austria
  • "Land of people" ("Land der Menschen")
  • "Being a Stranger" ("Fremd sein")
  • Evangelical Refugee Service ("EFDÖ")
  • Reactions of the Austrian churches to the entry of the FPÖ into the governement coalition: process leading to the publication of a series of "recommendations" for voters

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