Our democratic societies are threatened by fanaticism and
religious extremism, but also by xenophobia and rejection of anything
different. Faced with this threat, States and religions should work
together to foster dialogue and mutual respect.
Religions have a fundamental duty to promote the shared values
and principles which underpin “living together”. Within the framework
of a “secularity of recognition”, States should ensure that their
neutrality remains inclusive and diversity-friendly, seek “reasonable
accommodations” on controversial religious practices. The aim should
be to guarantee equality that is effective in the right to freedom
of religion and avoid any restrictions on this right which are not
necessary in a democratic society.
Education is the key to combating ignorance, breaking down
stereotypes, building trust and mutual respect and promoting sincere
support for the shared values of living together. School should
be a meeting point and a place for constructive dialogue between
individuals of different beliefs, and help them open up to other
visions of the world. In this context, States and religious communities
should collaborate so that the teaching of religion becomes an opportunity
for reciprocal listening and for developing critical thinking.
The Council of Europe should set up a stable platform for
dialogue with senior representatives of religions and non-denominational
organisations in order to foster active commitment by all the stakeholders
in activities to promote living together.