Statement of the WPF Presidency on Paris Terror Attack

January 10, 2015

Like every civilized person the members of the Presidency of the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations” are deeply shocked and outraged about the brutal and coward terrorist crimes carried out in Paris.

First of all we would like to express our compassion with the relatives and friends of all the murdered victims of the terrorists, civil hostages, policemen, journalists and with the whole French nation. Terrorism has to be condemned and fought with the utmost vigor as there is no justification at all for terrorism, in particular no religious justification. Terror and murder are an assault on any religion, as rightly expressed by many competent authorities, on Islam as well. Any attempt to justify terror with religious objectives is an abuse of religion and an offense to true believers.

There is also no political justification for terrorist violence as violence does not solve any problem but will create new problems. But above this clear condemnation of terrorism and its abuse of religion one should not oversee that there are rising tensions in European societies and an increase of xenophobic, anti-Semitic and islamophobic attitudes. Intentionally or not, increasing alienation and confrontation between the religious and cultural communities are playing into the hands of extremists who claim to defend the interest and the honor of disregarded groups including their religious values. Obviously neither governments nor civil society have yet found the way out of that dilemma and need a new strategy instead of an undefined and vague multiculturalism.

Dialogue of civilizations must be carried out at all levels of society and must include not only the respect for otherness but also social development, equal opportunities and real integration. Dialogue of civilizations is not only the format of talk, but a living example of the existence of the possibilities to do so. Intercultural education and a culture of non-violence and peace must replace alienation and confrontation.

The media have a special responsibility in that respect, to foster mutual understanding among people of different ethnic and religious background and to refrain from bias, prejudice and aggressive provocation. Freedom of press is a great achievement of democracy but is not absolute and has like any other freedom its limits when it violates the freedom of others. The feelings of the believers of all religions should be respected by responsible media.

The tragic events from Paris unfortunately also demonstrate that jihadi groups were used by some powers for their geopolitical agenda, following the absolute wrong maxim “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.  A policy of "regime change" has created the political vacuum in which these groups are flourishing and now threatening Europe.

Therefore all people of good will and believers of all religions should not only be shocked and outraged but united in the response to the threats of terrorism. The answer must be more dialogue among civilizations and religions and a clear denouncement of alienation and confrontation as well as of extremism, radicalism and terrorism. There should not be space for what so ever xenophobic, anti-Semitic and islamophobic attitude. We, the World Public Forum “Dialogue of Civilizations”, will continue to work for a better world in which dialogue and mutual respect are not the exception but a general attitude. This is our quest for peace and justice.