Culture, education essential in combating discrimination: German embassy's symposium

Ahmed Kotb , Tuesday 6 Feb 2024

Participants of a panel discussion – organized by the German embassy in Cairo on hatred roots – have agreed that cultural dialogue and the inclusion of anti-discrimination education among children are needed to combat rising hate speech and discrimination acts worldwide.

German Embassy

 

The panel was held under the title ‘Roots of Hatred – Building Open Societies through Culture and Education’ on Tuesday.

Frank Hartmann, the German ambassador to Egypt, expressed his country’s ongoing commitment to solving discrimination problems within its society to maintain an open democratic community.

Hartmann said Germany always looks for innovative ideas to overcome hatred and promote acceptance of the other side’s perspective to reach peaceful solutions.

Hartmann also stressed that his country hopes to reach a lasting ceasefire in the Israeli-Gaza conflict, which has led to a humanitarian catastrophe with a rising number of casualties on both sides.

"We hope to reach a lasting ceasefire and hopefully a two-state solution, as peace for Israel will only be possible if the Palestinians live in peace as well," he asserted.

He also underlined the negative impacts incurred by societies and individuals in different parts worldwide due to polarization, hatred and acts of violence, assuring the importance of knowledge and education in addressing such issues.

He also advocated for promoting inclusiveness rather than discrimination and hatred.

Hartmann underscored the necessity of combating hate speech and bridging gaps between societies through fostering cultural dialogue and promoting integration among people from diverse backgrounds.

Ferda Ataman, the federal anti-discrimination commissioner of the German government, pointed out that anti-discrimination means treating people equally while taking measures against inequality.

"Anti-discrimination is about seeing that there is the difference in the room and doing anything possible to deal with unequal treatment," she said, adding that people need to always think about discrimination and anti-discrimination and take positive measures to protect diversity and resist hatred.

"That is why Germany has an anti-discrimination law to enhance the society's inclusiveness and combat unequal practices," Ataman added.

Susan Kamel, a professor of Museum Studies at the University at Applied Sciences Berlin (HTW), noted that culture and education are crucial to learning from opposing opinions and embracing diversity and inclusiveness.

She stressed the significance of accepting similarities and differences of the others – whether based on race, gender, religion, social background or sexual orientation.

"We need to teach students from early ages the meaning of things like privilege and discrimination and their effects, and how to deal with marginalized groups to promote inclusiveness in the society and deal with everyone equally," Kamel noted.

Youssef Zidan, a renowned Egyptian scholar and novelist, said that hatred and discrimination, in his view, stem from a feeling of superiority and a false sense of distinction based on religious or racial beliefs.

"We need to understand our different perspectives and work on rejecting intolerance and discrimination," Zidan said.

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