Open Letter: NO to Invitating Minister Heir of Nazism to EU Anti-Racism Group

Michael Lucan || CC 3.0

One does not fight against racism and antisemitism along with the heirs of Nazism but by fighting resolutely against them.

It is this evidence that we are obliged to recall today, while it is the Austrian Minister of Interior from the FPÖ, Herbert Kickl, whom the European Commission has chosen to open the work of the next meeting of the “EU High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance”.

Created two years ago to nurture reflections against racism of the European Commission and bringing together antiracist activists, experts and institutional representatives involved in this field, the Group usually meets in Brussels, twice a year. It is planned that they will meet exceptionally in Vienna, on the upcoming October 16 and 17.

Thus, a leader of a party of heirs of Nazism, who calls to “concentrate migrants in camps,” who inspires the neo-fascist youth movement “Identitäre” which slogan is “Viennese blood, too much foreignness, it is good for nobody”, and who relies on “student fraternities” that exclude anyone who is not “Aryan”, some of which even calling to “gas a seventh million Jews”, would be an inspiration for the European Commission in its fight against racism and antisemitism?

That debates of ideas, sometimes lively, can be deployed in democratic frameworks, is a healthy necessity. That the FPÖ, due to its positions, is situated outside these frameworks, which they seek to destroy, is a fact. That the FPÖ attempts to instrumentalize democratic institutions by perverting them, in order to make believe that they are respectable, is a classic strategy of radicals. That the Austrian government uses its Presidency of the Council of the EU to try to wash itself of the infamy that the presence of the heirs of Nazism within it represents, is to be expected. The European Commission acting as a complicit in these wrongdoings, would be absurd and unacceptable.

Indeed, if the European Commission persisted in maintaining this invitation, it would betray the democratic ideals of peace, tolerance, equality and liberty that are the EU’s fundamental values. It would be a blow to those who, all over the continent in these difficult times, fight for these values. It would serve the FPÖ’s “normalization” strategy even though it is one of its worst enemies.

On the contrary, excluding Herbert Kickl from this meeting, would reaffirm the primacy of the EU’s fundamental values and strengthen the humanists.

The European Commission must make a clear choice.

A choice between working with the FPÖ and the other racist and antisemitic parties, or with civil society committed against racism. A choice between the ideology that led to the destruction of Europe, or the human rights that must be its foundations.

What is at stake is the maintenance or destruction of a “democratic sanitary cordon” within European institutions, especially those dedicated to the fight against racism.

It is simple: Herbert Kickl must be excluded from the meeting of the Working Group against Racism.

If his invitation were confirmed, this Group would lose its raison d’être and legitimacy, and we would not be able to participate.

263 signatories from 34 countries launch this call:

Benjamin Abtan, President of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement – EGAM, Coordinator of the Elie Wiesel Network of parliamentarians of Europe, Beate, Arno and Serge Klarsfeld, Lawyers, Leaders of the Sons and Daughters of Jews deported from France association (Germany & France), Lena Köhler, President of the Student Union of University of Vienna (Austria), Richard J. Roberts, 1993 Nobel Prize for Medicine (UK), Oliviero Toscani, Visual artist, Photographer (Italy), Beni Hess & Bini Guttmann, Presidents of the Austrian Union of Jewish Students (Austria), Nadia Gortzounian & Nicolas Tavitian, President and Director of the Armenian General Benevolent Union Europe – AGBU (Belgium), Gabriela Hrabanova, Executive Director of the European Roma Grassroots Organisation Network – ERGO (Czech Republic), Balint Josa, Coordinator of United Againt Racism and for Intercultural Action (Hungary), Livia Fränkel, President of the Association of Holocaust Survivors in Sweden (Sweden), Willi Hejda, Chairperson of Student Union of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (Austria), Johanna Ortega Ghiringhelli, President of the International Union Of Socialist Youth, Gérard Biard, Editor-in-Chief of Charlie Hebdo (France), Hilde Grammel, President of the 20 000 Women Platform (Austria), Can Dündar, Journalist (Turkey), Pascal Bruckner, Essayist, Writer (France), Benjamin Stora, Historian (France), Fadela Amara, Former Minister (France), Svetlana Gannushkina, Board Member of Memorial (Russia), Marie Darrieussecq, Writer (France), Michel Boujenah, Actor, Director (France), Jimmy Losfeld, President of the Student General Associations Federation – FAGE (France), Dominique Sopo, President of SOS Racisme (France), Lila Le Bas, President of the National Union of Students of France – UNEF (France), Mario Stasi, President of the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism – LICRA (France), Ali Bayramoglu, Author and political commentator (Turkey), David Albrich, Spoksperson of the Left-wing platform movement Linkswende jetzt (Austria), Sihem Habchi, Recipient of the Simone de Beauvoir Price, Director of Aurore, Former President of Ni Putes Ni Soumises (France), Boris Raonić, President of Civic Alliance (Montenegro), Elie Chouraqui, Director, Screenwriter, Producer (France), Ashmet Elezovski and Irfan Martez, Presidents of theNational Roma Centrum (Macedonia), Ariel Goldmann, President of the Unified Jewish Social Fund (France), Ashmet Elezovski and Rudolf Kawczynski, Roma National Congress (Germany), Irsan Jasharevski, President of Symbiosiz Roma association (Macedonia), Oriol Valery Hrytsuk, Coordinator of Independent Democrats Against Authoritarian Regimes – IAIDAR (Poland), Hristo Ivanovski, President of Alliance for Human Rights (Macedonia), Oriol Lopez Badell, Coordinator of the European Observatory on Memories – EUROM (Spain), Richard Giragosian, Director of the Regional Studies Center (Armenia), Patrice Leclerc, Mayor of Gennevilliers (France), Deyan Kolev & Teodora Krumova, Presidents of the Amalipe Center (Bulgaria), Frederico Fubini, Journalist and author (Italy), Michel Mallard, Cultural Activist at La Fabrica (Italy), Baskin Oran, Human Rights Activist (Turkey), Ivo Goldstein, History Professor, University of Zagreb, former Croatian Ambassador to France (Croatia), Magdalena Czyż, President of Open Republic (Poland), Simon Clarke, Associate Professor at the American University of Armenia (Armenia), Marian Mandache, Executive Director of Romani Criss (Romania), Dalykali Gomez Baos, General Coordinator of the Organizing Process of the Rrom-Gitano People of Colombia -Prorrom (Colombia), Tomas Kubilius, Spokesperson of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (Lithuania), Advija Ibrahimovic, Spokesperson of Women from Srebrenica (Bosnia), Hugo Billard, History Professor (France), Menia Goldstein and Ina Van Looy, President and Director of the CEC of the Jewish Secular Community Center CCLJ (Belgium), Armand Back, Journalist (Luxembourg), Rithy Panh, Director, Writer (France), Macha Fogel, Journalist at Le Monde des Religions (France), Cengiz Aktar, Associate Professor of Political Sciences, University of Athens (Greece), André Sirota, Author and University Professor (France), Ofer Bronchtein, President of the International Forum for Peace (France), Alban Perrin, Training Coordinator at Shoah Memorial (France), Caroline Mecary, Elected member of the Paris Regional Council (France), Roberto Romero, Elected member of the Paris Regional Council (France), Annette Levy-Willard, Journalist and Author (France), Pascal Blanchard, Historian (France),Panayote Dimitras, Spokesperson of Greek Helsinki Monitor (Greece), Pierre Henry, President of France Fraternités (France),Vincent Worms, President of Tsadik Foundation (Switzerland), Alain Lempereur, Professor at Brandeis Heller School & Harvard PON (France), Noël Mamère, Journalist and former Member of Parliament (France), Pavlos Tsimas, Journaliste at Skai TV (Greece), Ilias Panchard, Town Councilor in Lausanne (Switzerland), Annie Lulu, Poetess (France, Romania), Charles Enderlin, Journalist (France), RenéLéonian, Secretary General at the French Biblical Alliance (France), Aymeric Givord, Member of the board at Ibuka (France), Alain Grabarz, President of Hachomer Hatzair (France), Dominique Tricaud, Lawyer, former member of the French Lawyers Council (France), Brigitte Stora, Author, Documentarian, Journalist (France), Gérard Prunier, International Consultant on Africa and its Security Issues (France), Marc Knobel, Historian (France), Ramazan Dyryldaev, Chairman of the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (France), Reyan Tuvi, Documentary filmmaker (Turkey), Guillaume Leingre, Author (France), Bojan Stankovic, Director of Youth Intiative for Human Rights (Serbia), Ewa Grzegrzółka, Spokesperson of the Association of Legal Intervention (Poland), Hubert Heindl, APTE – International HR and Peace Project Consultancy (Germany), Ales Kuslan, Director of Ekvilib Institute (Slovenia), Urša Raukar,  Actress (Croatia), Yves Ternon, Historian (France), Nassim Mekeddem, Vice President of Student Union FAGE (France), Jacques Maire, MP (France), Henriette Asséo, Historian (France), Christine Priotto, Mayor of Dieulefit (France), Julien Dray, Elected at the Paris Regional Council (France), Didi Reda, Founder of “Graines de France” (France), François Levent, Co-President MRAP Nantes (France), Catherine de Wenden, SciencePo University Professor (France), Jacky Mamou, President of Darfur Emergency Collective (France), William Bourdon, Lawyer (France), Patrick Klugman, Deputy Mayor of Paris (France), Kendal Nezan, Director of the -Kurdish Institute of Paris (France), Guillaume Denoix de Saint Marc, French Association of Victims of Terrorism (France), Ismael Wa Muhikira, Genocide Studies and Prevention from University of Rwanda (Rwanda), Jana Horváthová, Director of the Museum of Roma Culture in Brno (Czech Republic), Alain Lempereur, The Slifka Professor of Coexistence and Conflict Resolution at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy (USA), Dominique Attias, Lawyer, former Vice Batonniere of the Paris Bar (France), Patrice Leclerc, Mayor of Gennevilliers (France), Franck Papazian, Co-president of the Armenian Community in France (France), Eliott Pavia, Spokesperson of the Socialist Youth Movement (France), Sonia Bedrosian, Honorary President of ÚGAB Sofia (Bulgaria), Alain Grabarz, President of the Hachomer Hatzaïr Youth Movement (France), Jean Michel, The Directorate of Research and Doctoral Studies (France), Olivier Damaisin, MP (France), Sovachana Pou, Deputy Director of Research and Publication at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) (Cambodia), Daniel Sovachana, Consulting with members of our ExCo (Switzerland), Renée Le Mignot, Co-President of MRAP – Movement Against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples (France), Cyril Hennion, President of the Jean Moulin Humanist Citizen Union (France), Philippe Blondin, President of the Jewish Museum of Belgium (Belgium), Godefroy Mokamanédé, Deputy Coordinator at POED-(Central Africa), Meiwald Peter, Head of Africa and Middle East Department (Germany), Angela Scalzo, Secretary General of SOS Racism Italy, Vice president of EGAM (Italy), Alena Krempaska, Institut ludskych prav – Human Rights Institute (Slovakia), Jette M. Møller, President of SOS Racism (Denmark), Pari Ibrahim, Founder and Executive Director, Free Yezidi Foundation (Netherlands), Sabina Achterbergh, President of the Sinti Association, Roma, Travelers Netherlands (Netherlands), Ilias Panchard, M,unicipal Councilor in Lausanne (Switzerland), Marigona Shabiu, Sppokesperson of Youth Initiative for Human Rights (Kosovo), Paula Sawicka, Chairwoman of the Program Board of Open Republic Association (Poland), Armen Vardanyan, Armenian-Ukrainian association (Armenia), Yousif A. Salih, Local Director Kirkuk, Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights (Iraki Kurdistan), Burhan Shamo, Yazidi Human rights Activist (Iraq), Aristotale, Head of the royal academy of Macedonia (Macedonia), Frédéric Encel, Geopolitics Professor (France), Flemming Rose, Journalist and researcher (Denmark), Jacques Jenny, photographer (France), Andrzej Luczak, President of the Roma community of Poland (Poland), Almoutassim Al Kilani, Programme Coordinator, Justice and Rule of Law Unit (Syria), Bruno Gonçalves Gomes, Spokesperson of the Human Rights association (Portugal), Eleni Takou, Human Rights 360 (Ghana), Damian Wutke, Secretary General of Open Republic Association (Poland), Magda Czyż, Board Member of Open Republic Association (Poland), Maximilien Lerat, President of the Young Socialists Movement (Belgium), Seray Genc, Film Critic (Turkey), Luděk Strašák, Head of Memorials, Museum of Romani, Culture (Czech Republic), Doros Polykarpou, Director of KISA – Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism (Cyprus), Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, President of Ibuka (Rwanda), Suleman Shuker, Yazidi human Rights Activist (Iraq), Donald Edward, Representative of the Nigerian Community in Greece (Greece), Yaroslav Hrytsak, Professor at the Ukrainiian Catholic University (Ukraine), Luciana Minassian, University of Buenos Aires, Law School (Spain), Margret Kiener Nellen, National Councillor (Switzerland), Avtandil Mikaberidze, Director Cultural Centre “Caucasus”, President, Georgian Institute at Athens (Greece), Nurcan Baysal, Activist, writer (Turkey), Josef Zissels, Human rights activist and Ukrainian dissident.(Ukraine), Chrystelle Brassinne, President at Luxembourg National Youth Council (CGJL) (Luxembourg), Prince Naif Dawood, President of Yazidi Independent Supreme Council (Germany), Gabriele Zimmer, MEP (Germany), Henry C. Theriault, President, International Association of Genocide Scholars (Australia), Lisa Mazzone, National Advisor (France), Daria Mustafina, Director of Institute of Partnership and Sustainable Development (Ukraine), Boris Raonić, President of Civic Alliance (Montenegro), Filiz Kerestecioğlu, MP (Turkey), Martin Holler, Historian (Germany), Omar Mohammed, Founder of Mosul Eye (Iraq), Ruben Mehrabyan, Expert at the Armenian Center for Political and International Studies (Armenia), Leon Egan, Spokesperson of the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (Ireland), Sayat Tekir, Activist of the Armenian Nor Zartonk movement (Turkey), Renée Le Migno, Pierre Mairat & Jean François Quantin, co-presidents of the MRAP – Movement Against Racism and for Friendship among Peoples (France), Nour-Eddine Skiker, President of the association Milestones for peace (France), Marek Gumkowski, President of Open Republic Association Against Anti-Semitism and Xenophobia (Poland), Sabiha Souleiman, President of “Elpida” Roma Women Association (Romania), Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, President of Genocide Watch (United States of America), Aldo Merkoci, Spokesperson of Mjaft! (Albania), Irena Petrovic, Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) (Bosnia), Ivan Buljan, Development Coordinator atYouth Initiative for Human Rights (Croatia), Mario Mazic, Program Director Youth Initiative for Human Rights(Croatia), Miroslav Broz, Spokesmen of Konexe (Czech Republic), Daryl Taylor, Spokesperson of Rasmus Network (Finland), Moavia Ahmed, Greek Forum for Migrants (Greece), Jeno Setet & Peter Bogdan, Leader and Spokesperson of civil rights of Roma of We Belong Here (Hungary), Marigona Shabiu, Executive Director of Youth Initiative for Human Rights (Kosovo), Valerian Mamaliga, President of Moldovan Institute for Human Rights (Moldova), Natalia Tarmas, Board Member of the Committee for the Defense of Democracy (Poland), Jovana Vukovic, Director of the Regional Center for Minorities (Serbia), Petra Hartmann, project manager – Ekvilib (Slovenia), Godwyll Osei Amoako, President of Centrum Mot Rasism (Sweden), Alem Bennett, Director of Sweden’s Anti-Discrimination Bureau (Sweden), Levent Sensever, Spokesman for Durde (Turkey), Andrea Haerle, Executive Director of Romano Centro (Germany), David Assouline, Vice-President of the Senate (France), John Mann, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Carles Campuzano and Canadés, Member of Parliament (Spain), Brahim Hammouche, Member of Parliament (France), Hubert JulienLaferrière, Member of Parliament (France), NicolasTurquois, Member of Parliament (France), Monique Limon, Member of Parliament (France), Sébastien, Nadot, Member of Parliament (France), Niedermüller Péter, Member of Parliament (Belgium), Gregorio Cámara Villar, Member of Parliament (Spain), Katia Segers, Member of Parliament (Belgium), Ruth Lister, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Lisa Mazzone, Member of Parliament (Switzerland), Paul Molac, Member of Parliament (France), Said Abdu, Member of Parliament (Sweden), Ana Gomes, Member of the European Parliament (Portugal), Boris Zala,Member of the European Parliament (Slovakia), Milorad Pupovac, Member of the European Parliament Croatia), Julie Ward, Member of European Parliament (United Kingdom)

Benjamin Abtan