OSCE conference in Cordoba, Spain

Combating anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance is the theme of the two-day conference organised by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The single conference was organized because of the decision taken by the OSCE Ministerial Council in December 2004, to bring under one roof the three meetings on intolerance that were held last year by the Organization. These meetings focused on anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and discrimination, as well as the use of the Internet to promote intolerance.

Cordoba, like Toledo, was home to Christians, Jews and Arabs during the Moorish occupation of Spain and so its history is particularly relevant to the theme of the conference. It is also the city which Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos serves as an MP.

Moratinos opened the conference yesterday and told delegates that respect and tolerance were not spontaneous and had to be encouraged by governments’ actions “We do not need declarations but rather specific decisions in the field of education, in the use of media or in the study of history.

It makes no sense to condemn and regret if there are no further measures making it impossible to repeat criminal or shocking acts against a person’s race, religion or ethnic origin…. All forms of intolerance and discrimination are to be condemned as assaults on the principle of the equality of all human beings.

Yesterday the conference focussed on anti-Semitism. Today delegates will examine the growing phenomenon of Islamophobia, as well as problems faced by Christians and other religious communities in different societies. They will also discuss the roles of government, civil society, schools and the media in combating prejudice and in promoting tolerance.

The conference will conclude with declaration signed by all the participants.