Extremist ideologies that incite hatred of other groups, preach racial or religious superiority, reject the rule of law, democracy and individual rights, and call on followers to use violence and terrorism to achieve their political or religious goals, represent serious threats to Europe's peace and prosperity. EFD monitors how these ideologies are spread within Europe through media, literature and religious teachings -many imported from and supported by other countries. We pursue targeted initiatives at the EU and national levels to ensure that Europe's laws against religious or ethnic incitement are effectively enforced, while at the same time upholding the freedom of expression that is a vital pillar of liberal democracy, which includes the right to offend others and criticise their sacred cows.
Immigration presents a welcome opportunity for European societies to benefit from the productive energy and cultural richness of new citizens. However, if not handled well, rapid immigration also threatens Europe's social cohesion. We are witnessing a rise in intolerance against immigrants, especially Muslims, as demographic changes in Europe become more visible and people fear the loss of familiar customs that are dear to them. On the other extreme, there is also a growing problem of parallel societies, where new immigrants not only fail to integrate into the economy and thus remain excluded from its prosperity, but also maintain separate norms based on communitarian values.
EFD partners with grassroots activists who are working to ensure that immigrant communities are successfully integrated into Europe's liberal-democratic societies. We facilitate networking and joint advocacy on issues such as interfaith dialogue, counter-radicalisation, forced marriages and honour crimes. EFD seeks to ensure that European governments and societies take these problems seriously, with input from the activists who working on these issues. EFD provides them with media and advocacy training to help them amplify their voices in public discussions over integration, and connects them with relevant policy makers and government resources.
Europe's principles of defending equal rights and individual freedoms, and supporting political pluralism and respect for the rule of law, are under assault in the international arena, as well as within the continent's boundaries. Powerful states governed by undemocratic regimes, have a clearly stated goal of spreading theocratic and religious supremacy worldwide. This manifests itself through exporting terrorist ideologies and promoting international policies that are in competition with "the West." Terrorist groups and certain undemocratic regimes that reject pluralism and democratic values are demonstrably undertaking activities to destabilise fragile states such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Somalia. European governments no longer have the luxury of remaining neutral or unaffected by these ideological battles abroad. EFD brings the voices of dedicated activists in other countries who are fighting against totalitarianism and illiberal ideologies, and on behalf of pluralism and tolerance, to the policy-making tables of the EU and the capitals of Europe, as well as to the editorial boards of major media outlets.