European Law Monitor

Make your voice heard!

ELM News ImageSchool students in Parliament to mark European Day for the Victims of Terrorism

On 14th March 2007 the European Parliament marked the third European Day for the Victims of Terrorism with a memorial ceremony in Strasbourg. Its President, Hans-Gert Pöttering, welcomed over 500 students from schools in London, Madrid, Germany and France to the parliamentary chamber, where they observed a minute of silence. Four students, each representing their school and a round-table working group, each took the floor to speak about combating terrorism.

"Today is a day of remembrance, an occasion to express solidarity with the victims of any terrorist attack ", said President Pöttering. "The victims of terrorism are a moral reference point for our societies and for democracy: the public authorities should listen to their voice and ensure that they are taken into account whenever decisions are taken with a view to combating those who made them unwilling protagonists".
"Solidarity needs to be shown in concrete terms: granting immediate aid and giving them social recognition of their status of victims", continued Mr Pöttering, adding that that "Europe must do more. If terrorism is the enemy of democracy, the European Union must pursue a proactive and not just a reactive policy in order to combat it ". Finally, Mr Pöttering concluded that to beat terrorism "we must be prepared to use all the instruments of the rule of law, all of them, but no more than those that the rule of law allows us. This is why we always remind our American friends that ‘Guantanamo’ is not reconcilable with our European principles of the rule of law".
Also taking part in the event were  Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla, and the chairmen of Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee Jean-Marie Cavada and Culture Committee Nikolaos Sifunakis.
Multiculturalism is the key
Representing the students who participated in the round table on The importance of having a multicultural society, Patricia Cerrada -from a school in Madrid- said: "Getting to know other cultures means making the effort to  understand them. Co-existence is very important. We cannot close our eyes. The best way to fight terrorism in our multicultural society is absolutely to promote communication with the Arab world". "We have to finish with the radicalisation of certain people but not seek to abolish other cultures. Each civilisation must be placed at the same level as ours".
British student Amir Deng, who took part in the round table on How to fight terrorism at European level, said "We have to ask ourselves how far do we address the roots of terrorism and what have we done to them so they feel the need to use violence? We, students here today, are the potential victims of tomorrow. Creating an intercultural dialogue and promoting education is vital to counteract terrorism. But be aware, we cannot be imperialistic in imposing our values on other cultures".
Finally, Corinne Eckert - from a school in Ortenau Kreis (Germany) - said that in order to prevent radicalisation from breeding terrorism, we need to promote tolerance and fight against racism already at school: "The fight against terrorism should be part of the school syllabus". Representing her school in Strasbourg (France), Tereza Blust spoke on how important it is to promote tolerance and respect for others at European level.