Symposium On Combating Racism and Hate Speech within the framework of ADF 2021

The 2021 Athens Democracy Forum hosts a Symposium on “Combating Racism and Hate Speech: Lessons from the Holocaust” in Athens, on September 30, 2021, in association and with the participation of the Greek Presidency of the IHRA and Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center.

The Bespoke Symposium will take place within this year’s edition of the annual Athens Democracy Forum, organized by the Democracy and Culture Foundation, with a view to examining and highlighting the rising incidence of hate speech and racism in today’s societies.

The Symposium will open with welcoming remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Nikos Dendias, followed by Natan Sharansky, Human Rights Activist and Chair of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, who will be delivering a video welcome note. Father Patrick Desbois, Founder and President of the Yahad-In Unum organization and Head of Academic Council of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, will address a keynote speech dedicated to locating the sites of mass graves of Jewish vi­ctims of the Nazi death squads (Einsatzgruppen) in the former Soviet Union. Daniel Holtgen, Council of Europe’s Secretary General Special Representative on Antisemitic Hatred and Hate Crimes, will be moderating the Panel Discussion that will follow with the participation of Ambassador Chris J. Lazaris, the current Chair of IHRA, Irina Bokova, former Secretary General of UNESCO and Chair of Board of Governors, Democracy and Culture Foundation, and Father Patrick Desbois.

The memory of the Holocaust will be the departure point for discussing the dangers of ex­tremist rhetoric and hate speech in the contemporary world. The proposed panel will e­xplore rising xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and racism, and the lessons we learn or do not learn from history. The role and responsibility individuals and States have, in creating more inclu­sive societies, will be also reflected upon. Among the issues to be examined: How can we combat hate crime and hate speech? How can we build safeguards against anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, and other forms of intolerance and discrimination in our societies today and in the future?

The ADF is convened under the auspices of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou who will be officially opening the Forum on September 29, along with the participation of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis of Athens.

The Bespoke Symposium provides an opportunity to link the lessons of the Holocaust with the cur­rent challenges to democratic values and processes in the modern world, a singularly appro­priate contribution to the commemoration of the Holocaust during the Greek Presidency of the IHRA.