For the Freedom of Expression
Tragedies have marked the first days of 2015. The bloodshed and death of the people in the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on 7 January and, almost simultaneously (3 to 7 January), the massacre of the local population in the Nigerian fishing town of Baga, because the children were sent to school according to 'foreign' customs, have once more brought to the fore the issues of respect and tolerance, solidarity, openness, diversity and identity.
These are really fundamental issues of our time, closely related to intercultural dialogue. Their solutions must not lie in the politics of isolation and building of walls, which is, unfortunately, nowadays increasingly visible in Europe, but in the creation of a long-term strategy that would put the cultural and educational dimension into the centre of development goals. Education in a culture of peace and tolerance, in cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, is indispensable from kindergarten to university. Intercultural dialogue is neither a myth nor a cult; it is a common reality and a common value of our only planet, an essential process in building new social and cultural models in a changing world. Intercultural dialogue is, as UNESCO emphasizes, one of the key challenges facing humanity.
These are indeed fundamental issues today, at a time when the revival of nationalism within Europe and outside of Europe is manifested in a revitalization of national unity, with a clear distinction between 'us' and 'them', and in a suppression of individual human rights and freedoms by collective stigmatization and collective identity.
It is necessary to fight for the freedom of expression, as is tirelessly stressed by Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who, owing to his caricatures, has lived in a secret location since 2007. Without this freedom, cultural networks dedicated to a constructive dialogue on cultural diversities and to the promotion of cultural communication and cooperation throughout the world, could not function and contribute to cross-cultural understanding.