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Dreifuss: Switzerland will fight racism by teaching tolerance

The interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss, says Switzerland wants to fight racism and anti-Semitism mainly by teaching tolerance. She was speaking at an international conference on the Holocaust in Sweden.

This content was published on January 27, 2000 - 08:14

The interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss, says Switzerland wants to fight racism and anti-Semitism mainly by teaching tolerance. Speaking at an international conference on the Holocaust in Sweden, Dreifuss said she also wanted to see measures against the spread of racist propaganda on the Internet.

"Many concrete measures and common efforts are necessary to maintain our vigilance in the face of hate and the denial of human dignity," she said. Dreifuss said that a broad public debate was necessary to come to terms with history.

The interior minister recalled the efforts made by Switzerland to shed light on its own role in World War Two. She highlighted the two reports published by an international commission of historians on Switzerland's gold dealings and refugee policy during the war. Dreifuss said every country should make a similar effort, "to prevent the resurgence of such deliberate and organised violence."

In particular, she emphasized the need for history to provide lessons for the future. Education is therefore crucial, she said.

"Children cannot go through their schooling without being taught why and how ostracism and racism undermine democracy, and destroy society in the long-term," she told delegates from 45 countries in Stockholm.

Dreifuss said Switzerland had already taken concrete measures towards providing continuous training for teachers.

But she also said the fight against racism must also take into account the development of the Internet. The World Wide Web can be used to spread racist ideology, calls to hate and discrimination across borders, she said, which can only be fought by international cooperation.

In this respect, she recalled that Switzerland was helping to finance an international seminar on this issue in Geneva next month. The three-day meeting of experts will be preparing the ground for an international conference against racism on the Internet, due to be held next year.

From staff and wire reports

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