Berlin conference on human rights opposes nationalism and religious fundamentalism | Germany | In-depth news and reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW



The title seems a bit abstract, said Michael Schmidt-Salomon with a smile.

The 51-year-old philosopher and director general of the Giordano Bruno Foundation referred to his organization’s latest campaign, presented on Monday in Berlin: “Citizens of the world, instead of citizens of the Reich”. The foundation claims in its charter a predominant culture shaped among others by “Humanism and Enlightenment”.

Religious fundamentalism and the rise of nationalism around the world are of concern to Schmidt-Salomon. “With our campaign, we are trying to respond to politicians like Trump, Putin, Erdogan and others,” he told DW, adding that these world leaders have placed “identity concepts at the center of their politics.”

Read more: We need a “new coalition of decency” against populism

“We are trying to show that human rights can only be based on a concept of global citizenship,” Schmidt-Salomon said, warning that the rise of fundamentalists and nationalists around the world is a massive threat to human rights. of man.

Promote human rights

The foundation chose to launch its initiative this week for a reason: some 70 years ago, on December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly in Paris adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The UN adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948

The fundamental rights of all are listed in 30 articles. Article 2, for example, states that “Everyone has the right to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion. , political or other opinion, national or social. origin, ownership, birth or any other status.

“It is one of the most important texts our species has ever formulated,” Schmidt-Salomon said. He called on the public to show interest and read the text, which is included in a brochure published by the foundation. “Time and time again I’m dismayed when I realize that most people don’t even know the text. “

The campaign is supported by the “Secular Refugee Aid” organization – which helps secular refugees – and the Cologne-based Central Council of Former Muslims.

Read more: Germans optimistic about immigration, study finds

People who have fled their home countries because they are persecuted for renouncing their faith should be granted asylum in Germany, said Mina Ahadi, 62, Iranian-born president of the Central Council of Former Muslims. In the early 1980s, she was forced to flee Iran because she spoke out against the regime in Tehran. Lawyers and judges in Germany who decide on asylum often have no idea that in many Muslim countries apostasy is punishable by death and public execution, she said.

Michael Schmidt-Salomon

Schmidt-Salomon says nostalgia for the past contributed to the rise of nationalism

Germany’s central role

The heated debate in Germany over refugees places the country in a central role in the campaign against nationalism and religious fundamentalism, Schmidt-Salomon said. “If you look at the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, you have to say that it probably only exists because [Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union] has become so open to the world, so liberal. Some people, he said, cannot accept a concept of liberalization, of plurality of life goals. As a result, he explained, people wish for the “good old days.”

Read more: Understanding the populist narrative

The trend towards nationalism and religious fundamentalism is a reaction to the fact that the world has become “a global village,” Schmidt-Salomon said. That said, the philosopher is not necessarily pessimistic about the future, which may in part be due to the success of a series of films, workshops and panel discussions on nationalism and religious fundamentalism that he it just launched in the German capital under the slogan “Secular Human Rights Week.” Despite the abstract sounding title, people are showing great interest in the conference, which runs until Nov. 18, Schmidt said -Solomon.


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