Representatives of cities all over Europe have shown their opposition to racism by joining UNITED’s “Strength In Diversity” campaign for the European Action Week Against Racism 2016.
As part of the annual campaign, UNITED asked mayors and other city representatives to submit photos and quotes to show the Strength In Diversity of their cities.
Many representatives of cities all across Europe took up the call, with major metropolises including Berlin, Lisbon, Geneva and Dublin joining the campaign, which also received support from the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism (ECCAR) and the Council of Europe’s Intercultural Cities Programme.
Many of the city representatives participating in the campaign highlighted the importance of diversity to modern city life, and the role that city administrations have to play in promoting diversity and community cohesion. “I believe that recognising and celebrating the strength in diversity is crucial to the creation of a fully integrated city,” said Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaigh. “Cultural differences should never divide us, instead they should empower us and consolidate us as a society.”
Michael Müller, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, related the campaign to the history of the German capital: “For decades, the Berlin Wall symbolized the lack of freedom,” he said. “Fortunately, we have since overcome that concrete barrier, and today Berlin stands for freedom and diversity.”
Mayor of Rijeka, Vojko Obersnel, chose to highlight the current refugee crisis facing Europe, and how European cities should provide a humane response. “In a very short period Europe has taken hundreds of thousands of refugees who are seeking safety and a better life. Unfortunately, their arrival has coincided with the strengthening of bigotry, misunderstanding and intolerance,” he said, adding that by participating in the campaign he wanted to “send a message that the acceptance of differences brings strength and wisdom, and to show, perhaps, the most significant characteristics of the people in my city to the world – tolerance, acceptance and respect for everyone.”
Other city representatives focused on the importance of antiracist activism: “Our “no” to racism must not be whispered: we have to scream it, with conviction,” said Paolo Dosi, Mayor of Piacenza. “The real and strong answer is to be joint against racism: this is the courage of a community that wants to undertake an uneasy route and to build a better future for everyone.”
All of the cities that took part in the campaign, and the photos and quotes they submitted, can be viewed on the Week Against Racism Website.