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CoE committee calls for new efforts to combat 'neo-Nazi' ideology

STRASBOURG, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Council of Europe (CoE) member states need wider strategies to counteract growing neo-Nazi ideology, the political committee of the CoE Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) declared Friday.

At a meeting held in Paris, committee members unanimously adopted a report entitled 'Counteraction to manifestations of neo-Nazism' authored by Swedish Moderate Party member Marietta Pourbaix-Lundin.

The economic crisis in Europe of the past four years has fostered growing support among citizens in some countries for far-right political groups, including some who openly espouse neo-Nazi views, particularly against immigrant minorities.

Pourbaix-Lundin stressed that the most effective way of counteracting this rise was not repression, but "prevention through education."

"Identification of early signals should allow for timely action against radicalization," the report states.

The report cites a number of initiatives across Europe following a rise in neo-Nazi attacks. These include Norway, where a new action plan against violent extremism was presented in May this year.

In July 2011 a far-right extremist, Anders Breivik, killed eight people in a bomb attack on government buildings in Oslo and went on to massacre a further 69 people in a mass shooting at a political meeting on the island of Utoya.

The Norwegian program focuses on spreading knowledge about the diffusion of such ideology and informing authorities on how best to face the challenges.

Problems in Finland led authorities there to draw up specific measures to counteract the spread of hate ideology over the internet and its use as a means of radicalization.

The report makes clear that the rapid diffusion of extremist ideology via social media makes it doubly important to track such views and react quickly.

The PACE committee said neo-Nazis are not to be ignored, but they should not be turned into martyrs either, and invited political leaders "to engage in debate with the neo-Nazi movements so as to expose them publicly by refuting and condemning their ideology and rhetoric."

Other possible measures include making party leaders and members, including parliamentarians, criminally liable for 'hate speech,' and preventing the funding of such parties.

In order to commemorate the victims of the Norwegian attacks, the committee is inviting PACE to support a move to make July 22 European Day for Victims of Hate Crime.

The report will be debated by PACE at its next plenary session in Strasbourg during the week of September 29.

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