|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.
Initiatives to overcome racism, xenophobia and racial violence
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