Hearing :: Promoting Tolerance and Understanding in the OSCE Region: The Role of the Personal Representatives

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HEARING



COMMISSION ON
SECURITY & COOPERATION IN EUROPE: 
U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION

PROMOTING TOLERANCE AND UNDERSTANDING IN THE OSCE REGION:  THE ROLE OF THE 
PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVES

WITNESSES:
RABBI ANDREW BAKER,
PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE ON COMBATING ANTI-SEMITISM, 
(USA)

AMBASSADOR ADIL AKHMETOV,
PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE ON COMBATING INTOLERANCE AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST 
MUSLIMS, 
(KAZAKHSTAN)

THE HONORABLE MARIO MAURO,
PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE ON COMBATING RACISM, XENOPHOBIA AND DISCRIMINATION,
(ITALY)

MS. FLORIANE HOHENBERG,
HEAD OF TOLERANCE AND NON-DISCRIMINATION DEPARTMENT,
OFFICE OF DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS


THE HEARING WAS HELD FROM 10:00 A.M. TO 11:55 A.M. TIME IN SVC 208/209 (CAPITOL 
VISITOR CENTER), WASHINGTON, D.C., [SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD), CHAIRMAN, CSCE], 
CHAIRING

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2009


SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD):  Good morning, everyone, and let me thank particularly 
our guests, the three personal representatives of the OSCE Chair-in-Office for 
being with us today.  This is an extremely important opportunity for the 
Helsinki Commission in promoting tolerance and understanding throughout the 
OSCE region.

Let me start off by saying how proud I am of the role that the United States 
Helsinki Commission has played in furthering tolerance within the OSCE region.  
It was our Commission that pressed very hard for the OSCE participating States 
to face the issue of the rise of anti-Semitism.  We promoted resolutions; we 
organized special presentations at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly meetings.  

I particularly want to acknowledge my three colleagues that are here; each 
played a critical role in advancing the issues in the Parliamentary Assembly 
which led to action within the OSCE framework in Vienna and at the OSCE 
Ministerial Meetings.  

My Co-Chair, Congressman Hastings, was very instrumentally involved in getting 
other delegations to join the U.S. delegation in those efforts during the early 
days.  Congressman Smith was one of the leaders in promoting resolutions and 
discussions with our colleagues, and Sen. Voinovich has been a true champion on 
this issue, raising this at every opportunity to advance an effective strategy 
to deal with the rise of anti-Semitism.

We are very pleased – as a result of this action, there were special 
conferences and we were able to reach consensus on declarations.  I 
particularly was proud to be part of the U.S. delegation in Berlin when the 
Berlin Declaration was entered into.  We can point to many parts of the 
consensus that was obtained in Berlin.  It was a remarkable achievement to get 
all 56 participating States to agree on a common declaration to fight 
anti-Semitism.  

One clause I was particularly pleased was included was one in which the 
participating States unambiguously declared that international developments and 
political issues, including those in Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East 
never justify any Semitism. 

From our beginnings, we were able to expand the strategies against all forms of 
intolerance – having follow-up meetings, developing reporting requirements so 
that we could get information – I particularly would acknowledge the work that 
the OSCE’s Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights did in those days 
in helping us get the information necessary – and then promoting best practices 
among the different states, including offering technical assistance.  

We were extremely pleased with the creation of the three personal 
representatives of the Chair-in-Office.  So we welcome the three of you 
together.  Having you here at one meeting with us is a special opportunity for 
the U.S. Helsinki Commission.  We want you to know how important we believe 
your work is.  We believe it is critically important.  But particularly in 
these times, when international events, including the worst economic downturn 
since the end of World War II puts additional pressure and importance on the 
work that you do.  We want you to know that we will be supportive of your 
actions; we want to hear your strategies; we want to know how we can do more.

Just on a personal note, yesterday – or I guess it was the day before yesterday 
– the Commission had a delegation participating in the fall meeting of the OSCE 
PA, held in Greece.  And some of us had a chance to visit a Roma camp on the 
outskirts of Athens.  If you ever need more reminders of how important the work 
you do for people whose voices otherwise would not be heard, I think that visit 
just underscored the importance of the work being done by OSCE to fight 
intolerance.

Before introducing the three special representatives let me turn to my 
colleagues:  First, the Co-Chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and the former 
President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Congressman Hastings.

REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D-FL):  Thank you very much, Chairman Cardin.  I am deeply 
appreciative of your remarks and echo them.  And in the interest of time, since 
we have four presenters, I will ask that my full statement be included in the 
record, and I look forward to hearing from the personal representatives on 
their contributions to this effort.  As you indicate, this is a particularly 
unique hearing in that we have all three of the personal representatives on 
tolerance here, and that doesn’t happen all the time.

I’d underscore the remarks that you made by pointing to the fact that the 
Helsinki Commission has provided, and continues to provide on the issues before 
us this morning, an outstanding amount of work under your leadership.  In all 
we have convened now nearly a dozen hearings on various aspects of intolerance 
in the OSCE region.  But I will leave at that and ask that my full statement be 
made a part of the record.

SEN. CARDIN:  Without objection.  All the statements will be included in our 
record today.  Congressman Chris Smith, the ranking Republican.

REP. CHRIS SMITH (R-NJ):  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  I do want to 
thank you for convening this extremely important hearing and to have four such 
distinguished witnesses here today to give us their insights.

Mr. Chairman, it was the spring of 2002 that this Commission held a hearing – 
began a series of hearings, in fact -- on the escalating anti-Semitic violence 
in Europe, which put the fight against anti-Semitism on the OSCE’s agenda.  I 
too look at my three colleagues and myself – we were the ones who took this 
issue up and pushed it and tried to ensure first at the Parliamentary Assembly 
and then at the OSCE itself that this became a core agenda issue – combating 
anti-Semitism – which then led to the other emphasis as well on the persecution 
of Christians as well as Muslims.  

And I do believe that we, our Commission has played a very important role in 
ensuring that the focus and the scrutiny not diminish in any way and that we do 
everything humanly possible to combat every form of this pernicious hate.

I do ask that my full statement be made a part of the record; I would just note 
that it is disturbing that many of the participating States have yet to provide 
the kind of documentation to ODIHR that they have promised over and over again. 
 And it’s all about implementation.  We know what we have to do; we just need 
to do it.  

We know with the Muslims that probably one of the worst manifestations of 
anti-Muslim hate was experienced in Srebrenica; we all remember the hatred 
towards Muslims that was expressed there; the genocide that occurred when 8,000 
men were summarily executed in the course of just a couple of days just because 
they were Muslim.  Those kinds of things need to be “never again.”  And we need 
to do all we can to build up the institutions in each participating State so 
that we can hopefully not just mitigate but prevent these kinds of activities 
before they even begin.  So I thank you again for this hearing.

SEN. CARDIN:  Thank you, Congressman Smith.  Sen. Voinovich?

SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R-OH):  Thank you.  First of all, I’d like to thank my 
colleagues for inviting me here for this hearing, and I’d like to thank the 
personal representatives for coming here and Ms. Hohenberg for being here today.

I think we’ve made great progress in recent years in our fight to promote 
tolerance and nondiscrimination through the OSEC region.  As has already been 
said, the Berlin Declaration passed and we were able to get tolerance and 
nondiscrimination in the core budget of ODIHR.  But I believe that if we’re 
going to be really successful, we must dot the i’s and cross the t’s as we aim 
to achieve a more tolerant world.  This means having the OSCE/ODIHR making more 
extra-budgetary funding requests for tolerance and nondiscrimination projects, 
and having OSCE member states answer that call. 

I believe this begins with the three of you that are sitting down here and your 
counterparts in ODIHR leadership in laying out a strategic plan of goals and 
objectives.  For example, do you feel that ODIHR Director Janez Lenar?i? and 
tolerance & nondiscrimination head Ms. Hohenberg are being responsive to your 
respective needs and concerns as personal representatives of the OSCE 
chairman-in-office?  Does each of you personally have the resources, the funds, 
to carry out your respective responsibilities?  

What is your candid assessment of the resources needed by the OSCE and ODIHR in 
order to complete your respective goals in promoting tolerance of Jews, Muslims 
and Christians throughout the OSCE region?  Are the OSCE and ODIHR staff 
members that you work with in Warsaw sufficient to get their work done?  What 
is your assessment of the personnel resources available at ODIHR? 

I understand from my staff that the only way OSCE member states can provide 
additional assistance to ODIHR activities is when such funds are formally 
requested through an electronic extra-budgetary OSCE project request.  Is this 
process effective?  Is the OSCE bureaucracy requesting funds for projects you 
deem to be of high priority needs:  for example, for police, for training for 
prosecutors, for judges?  And most important I think is education, education, 
education.  Do the countries you’re working with have the money so that they 
can get information out in their respective countries about educating people in 
terms of those issues that you’re concerned with?

From conversations with my good friend Rabbi Baker, I understand that there 
continues to be need for financial investment as well as good data going into 
OSCE’s online tolerance information system database, TANDIS, that records 
incidents of intolerance in the OSCE region.  How could we diplomatically 
ensure that OSCE states fulfill their commitment regarding data collection, and 
putting it into the electronic system?  And what level of continued financial 
requirement is required to ensure the success and efficacy of this electronic 
database?

Basically, what I’m hopeful for is that in the next several months of really 
laying out what needs to be done and the resources you need to have to be 
effective in getting your job done.  Once we’ve identified that, then we can go 
from there to figure out how we can try to respond to your needs.  Thank you, 
Mr. Chairman.

SEN. CARDIN:  Thank you, Sen. Voinovich.  Let me introduce the three special 
representatives:  First, Rabbi Andrew Baker, who serves as the Personal 
Representative on Combating Anti-Semitism.  Rabbi Baker is Director of 
International Jewish Affairs at the American Jewish Committee.  Since his 
appointment by the Greek Chair-in-Office earlier this year, he has made country 
visits to Latvia, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Spain.  

Ambassador Adil Akhmetov serves as the Personal Representative on Combating 
Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims.  He was appointed in June.  The 
Ambassador is Secretary of the Committee on International Relations, Defense 
and Security and a member of the Senate of Kazakhstan.

Mario Mauro serves as Personal Representative on Combating Racism, Xenophobia 
and Discrimination, also focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against 
Christians and members of other Religions.  A member of the European 
Parliament, he is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and is a member of 
the Delegation for Relations with the United States.  He previously served as 
one of the European Parliament’s vice presidents.

And lastly, I want to note the presence Floriane Hohenberg, Head of the 
Tolerance and  Nondiscrimination Department of ODIHR,  who is accompanying the 
personal representative on their trip to the United States and Canada.  We 
welcome Ms. Hohenberg as a resource during this hearing.  Thank you very much 
for being here. 

We’ll start with Rabbi Baker.

RABBI BAKER:  Sen. Cardin, thank you very much.  It’s a great honor to be here 
but also a pleasure to be here before you, before Congressman Hastings, Sen. 
Voinovich, Congressman Smith.  

I don’t know if I’m blessed or cursed with the memory of knowing how these 
processes began, in going back some years now, but I do know how most of these 
efforts – the existence of this department at ODIHR, the presence here of these 
personal representatives – almost all of these efforts in combating intolerance 
started here; started with the Helsinki Commission and efforts from Members of 
Congress to push the bureaucracy, and it wasn’t easy.  So when we look back, I 
think there’s much we can take some pride in and, again, expressing thanks to 
you.

I also want to thank, of course, the Greek chairmanship because they’ve 
afforded me this opportunity, and have really given me the freedom and the 
flexibility to take up this issue.  As you’ve indicated, I have already issued 
three formal country visit reports, but since then I’ve also paid visits to 
Romania and to Slovakia and have schedule one more visit to Hungary in 
November.  So this is all part of this process.  

Let me, in light of that, just present a few of the main concerns in combating 
anti-Semitism that have become apparent to me this year from those visits, from 
discussions as well with Jewish community leaders.  And I’ll present here 
somewhat of an abridged version of my written testimony.

An essential element of the problem in many countries is the presence of 
anti-Semitism in public discourse.  It is offensive, pernicious in its own 
right, but it can also contribute to a climate which poses a security threat to 
Jews and to Jewish institutions.  A capacity to counter this anti-Semitism is 
frequently lacking.

In my testimony, I review what you have in various countries, but those 
experiences show that successful prosecution, conviction of these laws tends to 
be quite limited.  Many European countries do have laws which restrict or 
punish hate speech.  They are intended to address incitement against religious 
or racial hatred as it may appear in public speeches, in newspapers, in other 
media, on the Internet.  It includes, of course, fomenting anti-Semitism and, 
in some cases, also Holocaust denial.  Rarely is the problem the legislation 
itself, but rather it is the infrequent and often unsuccessful record of 
employing it.  

Putting it simply, many hate speech laws have the unintended consequences of 
letting political leaders off the hook.  In the United States and in other 
countries with strong free speech protections, manifestations of racism, of 
anti-Semitism, of other extremist views in public discourse are generally 
addressed – and frankly, in many cases, can only be addressed – by strong and 
swift rebukes from political and civic leaders.  In this way, such hateful 
speech can be marginalized, isolated.  

But in countries with legislative remedies, some political leaders will refer 
to the legal process as a reason or an excuse not to speak out.  As we see in 
practice, these legal decisions often take months.  In Spain, you had two 
cases; each took more than 7 years before they were actually adjudicated in a 
complete path.

And in the meantime, there is no clear message being delivered that such 
hateful speech is unacceptable.  Consider, too, that among some mainstream 
political leaders, they fear the success of extremist movements.  So one could 
say they see calculated benefits in remaining silent or leaving this somewhat 
ambiguous.

There are also special problems with countries with of a Communist or 
authoritarian past.  Because all speech was once monitored and controlled, 
prosecutors and judges today may be reluctant to pursue these cases of hate 
speech even though laws exist on the books.  

There needs to be, I think, some education here, at least within this 
framework; that it’s possible to control or prosecute hate speech while still 
maintaining, in all other areas, a vigorous policy of protecting free speech.

In any case, in nearly all places, anti-Semitic speech is understood to be 
included within these larger categories.  But virtually no penal code includes 
a specific or detailed description of anti-Semitism, which means it’s not 
always recognized – certainly not always recognized by prosecutors or judges or 
even by official ombudsmen.  I think we saw one example in the case recently in 
Sweden where this Commission spoke out and, yet, in the end, the official 
ombudsman determined this was not even fitting within their legal definition of 
what could be sanctioned.  

A second area to focus on is a concern about monitoring, and I know it was 
already referenced by you.  Frankly, monitoring anti-Semitic incidents in many 
countries is frequently lacking or it is incomplete.  The newly-released ODIHR 
study on hate crimes – I’m sure you’ll hear a bit about from Floriane – reveals 
that many governments are still lax in monitoring and recording hate crimes or 
aggregating the results in a way that lets us understand who are the victims, 
who are the perpetrators?

But the problem is especially acute when the goal is to combat anti-Semitism.  
In countries where hate speech is not restricted, government authorities are 
unlikely even to monitor such incidents.  And the poor record in many countries 
that do have such laws frequently deter citizens from coming forward and filing 
suit.

Physical attacks may be monitored, but this still ignores the anti-Semitism 
that appears in the press, in newspapers, on media, on the Internet, in public 
demonstrations.  And, of course, in anonymous hate mail that Jewish leaders 
receive.

Frankly, when these incidents are not recorded or they’re underreported, it 
conveys the misimpression to political leaders that the problem itself is not 
so important.  Now, as we’ve said, governments need to be encouraged to do a 
better job of monitoring and recognizing anti-Semitism, and we should do 
everything to urge them to do so and to live up to their commitments. 

But frankly, in the interim, we can do more to assist local Jewish leadership, 
other NGOs in various OSCE countries or regions to develop their own monitoring 
standards.  And if they do so in a standardized and internationally recognized 
way, then public authorities, as we’ve seen for example in France and the U.K., 
can accept their results.  I had a meeting in Sofia.  I already saw an 
eagerness on the part of Jewish leaders from six Balkan countries to come 
together for the purpose of organizing a central place to do monitoring. 

Finally, another main point to raise goes to the very question of defining 
anti-Semitism.  In 2004, when the European Monitoring Center conducted its 
first study of anti-Semitism, it recognized that over half the countries – half 
of its monitors in the EU countries had no definition of anti-Semitism and of 
the remainder, there was no definition in common.  So out of that grew a formal 
working definition adopted in 2005 of anti-Semitism.

It’s a definition – I’ve appended it to my testimony that explains what it is, 
explains by example how it manifests itself today.  It also identifies those 
aspects of anti-Semitism that relate to the demonizing of the state of Israel 
or anti-Semitism in which Jews are held responsible for actions of the state of 
Israel.  

It is now the official working definition of the successful organization the 
European Union Fundamental Rights Agency.  And it’s been adopted in various 
places by the U.S. Special Envoy [to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism], at the 
State Department, by parliamentary groups in the U.K. and in Germany and 
certainly by ODIHR and all of its documents and its training of law enforcement.

It’s something that I’ve had the opportunity in my own meetings with officials 
to share and I have to say for the most part, they are very responsive to 
having this.  I think we should not underestimate the fact that you do have 
officials in various places who don’t know what anti-Semitism is or all of its 
manifestations today.  

If I can generalize from at least these five country visits, the tenor of those 
visits, I would say that thus far, the discussions were much more collaborative 
and pragmatic than confrontational in nature.  I think in all cases, there was 
an acknowledgement of the problem and even if – if governments felt they were 
dealing with it, a recognition that the problem could get worse and that they 
were eager to make available, have made available to them additional resources.

We have seen the academic materials, the educational materials that ODIHR has 
developed in terms of combating anti-Semitism.  They’ve already been developed, 
I think for 10 countries and three more are in the process.  At some of my 
visits where this is not in operation, there was an eagerness to accept, to put 
to use, develop these materials for themselves in these countries.

Of course, they need some resources to develop them but you have, already, a 
willingness to take advantage of them and education ministries that are willing 
to implement them as part of school curriculum.  Also, an interest in ODIHR 
police training work.  My most recent visit in Romania, the state secretary of 
the interior, a career policeman who headed up the police department in 
Bucharest in an earlier job felt, yes, they had a fairly good hold on these 
problems.

But they could use help and he is eager for Romania to become part of this 
training program.  Again, what we’ve also – what I’ve also discovered – it has 
to go beyond just police.  Prosecutors, judges also need to have a familiarity 
with the nature of hate crimes.  I think this is something that ODIHR is 
prepared to do.  We can learn more from Floriane, from Ambassador Lenar?i?.  
But again, it’s going to require resources.
 
And I think if we don’t take it beyond police training to prosecutors and 
judges, then it simply stops.  Finally, I would say I think that the efforts – 
and I may be specifically focused on the problem of anti-Semitism, but I think 
the efforts, more generally, of the mandates of the three of us are mutually 
reinforcing.  And clearly, in many cases, the solutions or the programs that 
are needed to address the problem are similar across the board.  

So even though the phenomenon of anti-Semitism is frequently unlike other forms 
of intolerance where you can have strong anti-Semitism in a society with 
virtually no Jews, for example, nevertheless the – the techniques to be 
employed to get at that problem often can be helpful across the board.  Thank 
you very much.

SEN. CARDIN:  Thank you, Rabbi Baker.  Ambassador Akhmetov?

AMB. ADIL AKHMETOV:  Mr. Chairman, Mr. Co-Chairman, distinguished members of 
the Helsinki Commission, ladies and gentlemen, it’s an honor and a great 
pleasure to address you here today.  As I see the focus of my mandate is 
raising awareness on intolerance and the discrimination against Muslims in 
addition to what I have submitted in written form earlier for the hearing 
record.  

I would like to draw your attention to the following.  In spite of the – in 
spite of tangible progress achieved in countering intolerance the 
discrimination against Muslims, many participating States of the OSCE still 
experience mounting waves of anti-Muslim bias and hostility, even 8 years after 
9/11.  In this regard, I will focus on two issues that are the call of the 
OSCE’s mandate, hate crimes against Muslims and the context in which they take 
place.

As ODIHR’s annual report on hate crimes in the OSCE region reveals, there is 
little reliable official or unofficial statistical information on hate crimes 
motivated by anti-Muslim bias.  Although 15 participating States informed ODIHR 
that they collect data on anti-Muslim hate crimes, only Austria and Sweden 
submitted figures on such crimes in 2008.

In the absence of information, how can democracies respond to the needs of 
their people and ensure that safety and the freedom of movement are guaranteed 
for all citizens?  ODIHR’s report shows clearly that many states throughout the 
region do not implement commitments they have made in relation with data 
collection. 

Now, let us try to answer the following question.  Why are crimes against 
Muslims underreported and under-recorded?  The first reason is that many states 
do not disaggregate data and specifically, do not record this specific type of 
crime.  Recommendations from numerous OSCE meetings, for example, the 
Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on Effective Implementation of Hate-Crime 
Legislation stress the need for states to disaggregate data.

But in fact, the implementation of this legislation has failed.  The second 
reason is that victims of hate crimes do not report to the police because they 
are afraid of being victimized by the law enforcement and sometimes because 
they fear that their status may be disclosed.  According to a recent survey of 
the Fundamental Rights Agency, 11 percent of the respondents of the survey had 
been victim of racially-motivated in-person crime, assault, threat or serious 
harassment at least once in the previous 12 months.

But between 53 percent and 98 percent of them, depending on their country of 
residence, did not report it to the police.  This indicates that there is a 
need for increasing the capacity of law enforcement officers in dealing with 
hate crimes again Muslims.  I would like to also encourage participating States 
to benefit from ODIHR’s law enforcement officers training program on hate 
crimes as much as possible.

A third reason could also be that there are not enough civil society 
organizations that are equipped to support communities.  Although states bear 
the primary responsibility of addressing hate crimes, civil society 
organizations have an important role in play rooted in communities.  They have 
privileged access to victims and therefore can assist victims by reporting to 
the authorities and by providing medical or psychological care after attacks.

NGOs from only 10 participating States provided ODIHR with information on 
anti-Muslim hate crimes in their countries, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, 
Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States.  I would 
like now to draw your attention to an aspect of the problem that is even more 
complex to grasp. 

I have witnessed that some media and some political parties use anti-Muslim 
rhetoric with a view to sell more news, to gain more attention or to attract 
more votes.  In my opinion, this is a very short-sighted strategy.  No 
individual, no group and no society can ever profit from increased intolerance 
within society.  This year, I have witnessed campaigns against establishing 
Islamic schools and building mosques or minarets.  

Sadly enough, the words I have heard and I have read remind me of those that 
were employed against Jews in the 1930s or in 1940s.  No need to stress that in 
this framework, Islam is often represented as a political ideology which is 
incompatible with the principles of democracy and human rights.

I would like to draw your attention to the next point.  How can ODIHR, OSCE 
provide assistance as intolerance the discrimination against Muslims have 
devastating effects, not only on the daily lives of the Muslim communities but 
also leads to tensions in the society and the international relations to remedy 
this negative and disturbing phenomenon?  

I encourage the participating States to benefit from the experience and 
assistance of ODIHR in developing educational tools to counter specific forms 
of intolerance, country-specific resources – resource books on Muslims in the 
OSCE regions and the guidelines for educators should be widely used and 
disseminated.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to draw your attention to the following.  
Yesterday, I had a number of meetings with U.S. and European community.  They 
mentioned that hate crimes against Muslims continue to be significant national 
concern even after the election of President Obama.  The latest FBI report, 
2007, on hate crimes showed that number of crimes against Arab-Americans, 
Muslims and Sikhs has increased four times since 2000.

Many Muslims have been murdered, calmly shot in the head as if it was 
somebody’s vendetta.  In 2001, the White House signed terrorist financing laws, 
without consulting the Congress, to expand the Treasury Department’s unilateral 
authority to freeze the assets of Muslim charity organizations and granted the 
department with virtually unchecked power to designate groups as terrorist 
organization.

The laws provide the government with the right to shut Muslim charity 
organizations down, often without allegations of criminal wrongdoing and 
criminal prosecution.  The laws have disproportionately affected Muslim 
charities and violate rights for free and fully practice of their religion.

They have restricted Muslims from zakat donation, one of the core pillars of 
Islam.  The American Muslims are restricted from providing material support for 
their religion and making charities.  American Muslims complain that with these 
laws, the government affects the institution through which they practice their 
religion.

During yesterday’s meetings, NGOs protecting Muslim rights also stressed that 
funding for their activity is not sufficient, not only to raise the question 
but also to address it at federal and interstate level.  NGO-government 
relations are left for mechanisms to communicate and work jointly to find the 
best solution.

This is what I heard yesterday and they requested to convey this information to 
you and I am doing this.  Thank you for your attention.

SEN. CARDIN:  Well, thank you very much for your testimony.  Mr. Mauro?

MR. MARIO MAURO:  Thank you, Chairman.  Let me thank you for the invitation to 
address such a distinguished audience.  Today’s hearing should be seen in the 
framework of the continuous leadership of the USA and in particular, of the 
U.S. Helsinki Commission on issues related to tolerance and nondiscrimination 
in the OSCE.  In this regard, it seems to me symbolic that I am here together 
with Ambassador Akhmetov and Rabbi Baker for the joint country visit of the 
three OSCE personal representatives on tolerance issues.

As you are aware, my mandate is broad.  It covers two areas: racism and 
xenophobia, including specific challenges faced by Roma and Sinti, and 
intolerance and discrimination against Christians and members of other 
religions.  In the limited time available, I will mention both issues.  I will 
highlight current trends, successes and positive aspects, as well as the 
challenges ahead.

Since my appointment as personal representative, we have witnessed an 
unprecedented collapse of the global economy which has affected all societies 
across the OSCE region.  However, some groups have felt the impact of the 
economic collapse much harder than other.  Due to their already vulnerable 
position, the effects of the economic crisis on migrants, refugees and minority 
groups within the OSCE region were especially harsh and have contributed to 
worsening their already unstable situation.

In a depressed economy, migrants or minority groups are seen by the majority as 
competitors for jobs and social services and thus as a threat to their 
livelihoods or standard of living.  This results in labeling minority group 
members as a burden to society.

When such discourse is prevalent, it can lead to an increase in racist and 
xenophobic rhetoric.  Such accusations can in return lead to increased racist 
sentiments and can worsen the social exclusion of migrants and minorities.

Additionally, the lack of leadership of mainstream political parties throughout 
the region in highlighting the positive contribution of migrants to national 
and local economies and to essential maintenance of their societies' 
infrastructures is also a matter of concern.  Such attitude at best acts as a 
barrier to the full participation of migrants and minority groups in societies. 
 It also gives implicit condolence to the acts of discrimination and hatred 
towards migrants and their families.

Accounts of such attitudes and incidents can be found in various reports 
including the ODIHR Annual Report on Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region.  In this 
regard, I wish to stress that ODIHR's report reveals that even if hate crimes 
and incidents based on racism and xenophobia are widespread throughout the OSCE 
region, there is no comprehensive and reliable data on the phenomenon. 

For example, only 15 participating States have to this day sent to ODIHR 
official information on hate crimes based on racism and xenophobia during 2008. 
 It is important to stress that the data gathered by the FBI will be available 
later this year.  This shows that participating States are, in this regard, not 
living up to their commitments.  And we all know that if states want to devise 
effective policies, they need comprehensive and reliable data.

The situation looks even worse with regards to Roma.  Only one participating 
State, Sweden, has sent official data on hate crimes against Roma.  At the same 
time, we know that the past years have seen a rise in manifestations of 
intolerance and violence against Roma in several OSCE participating States.  

Reported incidents of violence, including those resulting in deaths, seem to be 
not isolated cases but signal a worrying trend.  The violence against Roma and 
Sinti takes place in an environment of open anti-Roma hate speech, somehow 
tolerated or unabated by the mainstream.  Such rhetoric garnishes public 
support, especially during electoral campaigns.

ODIHR's Status Report on the Implementation of the Action Plan on Improving the 
Situation on Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area was issued last year.  It 
elaborates on the progress made thus far, and on the remaining challenges 
confronting participating States as regards to fulfilling their commitments 
towards Roma and Sinti.  

It also identified the negative trends in a number of areas, and an increasing 
gap between the Roma population and the majority, in fields such as education, 
housing and employment.  The report also points to the challenges of 
discrimination, marginalization and segregation which still prevail for Roma 
and Sinti children when they enroll in local school systems.  

Recognizing the importance of early education as an instrument for preventing 
social exclusion and marginalization, and for effecting a long-term improvement 
in the situation of Roma and Sinti, the Ministerial Council last year adopted a 
decision on enhancing OSCE Efforts to Implement the Action Plan on Improving 
the Situation of Roma and Sinti within the OSCE Area.

There are many problems inhibiting effective responses to racism and 
xenophobia.  Amongst the most prominent ones are institutional barriers and 
challenges, which can sometimes impede positive policies and good intentions.  
Worse still, in some countries, it is the state policy that institutionalizes 
racism and discrimination.

In such cases, seemingly neutral policies or legislation have discriminatory 
effects on certain groups of population, who are often already marginalized or 
socially excluded.  Situation of Roma and Sinti in many OSCE participating 
States provides an illustration of this worrying trend.

Another example of institutional racism is the policy of ethnic or racial 
profiling by law enforcement agencies.  Examples of such practice have been 
well documented by nongovernmental as well as intergovernmental organizations 
in a large number of OSCE participating States and it is safe to say that no 
country has a clean record in this regard.

Despite a number of good practices and initiatives aimed at addressing the root 
causes and effects of racism and xenophobia implemented across the OSCE, there 
still remains a worrying gap between the politically binding human dimension 
commitments and the actual implementation of these commitments across much of 
the OSCE region.
 
A strong and unequivocal stance against racism and xenophobia, including 
anti-Roma hatred and violence is urgently needed.  States and relevant 
stakeholders must unite in their efforts and use all existing frameworks and 
resources to combat such phenomena and prevent further escalation of violence 
against those vulnerable groups of the population.

Since in December 2004, the Bulgarian OSCE Chairmanship appointed a Personal 
Representative on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also 
focusing on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, a number of OSCE 
tolerance-related decisions and declarations were adopted, which included 
specific commitments and references to the fight against prejudice, intolerance 
and discrimination against Christians.

It is important to recall that these commitments are based on and reflect a 
dual approach defined by the participating States, defining and devising 
policies that guarantee the principle of equality and fight all forms of 
intolerance, addressing broad concepts like racism and intolerance in societies 
while at the same recognizing the specificities of different forms of 
intolerance such as intolerance against Christians and members of other 
religions.

I believe that more than any other, the mandate of the Personal Representative 
on Combating Racism, Xenophobia and Discrimination, also focusing on 
Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians and Members of Other 
Religions encapsulates this concept well, both in terms of opportunities and 
challenges deriving from it.

One example of the complexities and challenges faced is the increasing 
“racialization of religion”, which reflects the complex relationship between 
race and religion and their public perception.  The concept suggests that a 
racial connotation can be extended to a religion, a religious group, or a 
belief system, although its adherents may include people of many races.

Regarding intolerance and discrimination against Christians, I am pleased to 
report that the first event entirely devoted to intolerance and discrimination 
against Christians was held in Vienna in 2009, in March, when ODIHR hosted a 
roundtable on this topic.  The roundtable attracted more than 100 participants, 
including many representatives of religious communities, experts and 
researchers in the OSCE area.

This is a testimony to the fact that the OSCE offers a unique forum to address 
these issues, unique firstly, because of the specificity of the commitments and 
secondly, because of the OSCE's inclusive geographical scope.  The roundtable 
provided a platform to discuss and better understand the nature and scope of 
the problem, the study of which had been limited and is now considered by many 
to be in its conceptual and defining stages. 

The roundtable concluded that intolerance against Christians is manifested in 
various forms throughout the OSCE region and called for improved collection of 
data on intolerance and discrimination against Christians.  This is all the 
more evident when one looks at the data provided by this year's Hate Crimes 
Report prepared by ODIHR.  Only three participating States submitted 
information and statistics to ODIHR on intolerance and discrimination against 
Christians.

Nonetheless, religious communities and civil society reported episodes of 
vandalism and violent acts directed at Christians and their properties, 
including places of worship and cemeteries.  Desecration of places of worship 
seems to be a particularly common feature of intolerance and discrimination 
against Christians in many parts of the OSCE area, including Western Europe, 
the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

Episodes of intolerance and discrimination committed against members of other 
religions, such as the Sikh community, were also reported.   In some parts of 
the OSCE area, Christian churches and members of other religions face very 
basic problems, such as the prohibition of acquiring legal status, praying 
freely and disseminating literature. 

It is important to focus on this issue as intolerance and discrimination of 
religious communities is closely linked to their limitations of freedom of 
religion or belief.  In this context, I would like to commend the United States 
for collecting comprehensive and disaggregated data on hate crimes against 
Christians and members of other religions.  Thank you for your attention.

SEN. CARDIN:  Well, let me thank all three of you for your testimony.  There’s 
some common themes here that all of you have mentioned that we can do a better 
job in collection of data and that we do – need to do a better job in 
monitoring the activities in our own community.  Let me just make a note of the 
fact that in the United States, we do have good collection of data information. 
 But there are gaps.  

I introduced legislation this past week for collection of data on violence 
against the homeless.  We just don’t know the statistical information.  We know 
it’s on the rise and I think before you can develop a concrete strategy, you 
need to know the facts.  And that’s why collection of data becomes so important 
and it also helps us on the monitoring issues.  

We’ve had a lot of activity over the last, I guess now, five or six years on 
commitments made to fight all forms of intolerance and to have action plans.  
It seems like we are still struggling on the collection of data, that we’re not 
doing anywhere near a strong enough job in that regard.  

Ms. Hohenberg, we have you here as a resource.  I would like to get you 
involved in the discussion as to what suggestions you might have to strengthen 
the ability of states understanding their responsibilities on the accurate 
collection of information so that we can share information and best practices?  

Maybe I’ll start with Ms. Hohenberg just to give you a chance to perhaps – it’s 
wonderful to have ODIHR here.  We want to make sure that the support for the 
three personal representatives was uniform and significant and we know that 
ODIHR has filled that need under very tough budgets.  So we thank you for your 
participation.

MS. FLORIANE HOHENBERG:  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  I really 
appreciate the opportunity to say a few words about the findings on our report 
on hate crimes and responses by states.  And I think this will allow me to 
touch upon an essential matter, which is support and I’m thinking of political 
support – support from experts as well as financial resources.

As the three personal representatives have already mentioned, the information 
we have received for the Hate Crime Report is very – is very patchy.  It is not 
comprehensive.  It’s mostly unreliable and cannot be compared.  We have 
received 47 responses from participating States to a questionnaire we had sent 
last year, which is actually a good level of responses.  It’s rising.

However, only 42 participating States mentioned that they do collect data.  And 
out of these 42, we have received statistics only from 15.  And then when you 
look at the different forms of intolerance, you see that among these, there are 
huge disparities.  I will just go through the numbers, the figures because I 
think they are quite striking.

Only 15 participating States report on racism and xenophobia; one on Roma and 
Sinti; eight on anti-Semitism; two on intolerance against Muslims; three on 
intolerance against Christians; zero on intolerance against members of other 
religions; three on LGBT groups; and two on persons living with disabilities.

In the years ahead, I think ODIHR, together with the participating States, will 
have a lot of work to do.  Our mandate is to support states to live up to the 
commitments and these commitments are quite clear.  I think OSCE has a very 
extensive and sound body of commitments in hate crime prevention and response.

We offer technical assistance in terms of training, in terms of data 
collection, in terms of improving legislation.  In particular, when it comes to 
data collection, we would like to develop, for next year, guidelines for 
participating States and how to set up data collection systems.  Since we have 
received, actually already, requests from particular participating States to 
help them establish such a sound monitoring system, we will continue carrying 
out training for police as well as to start carrying out training for 
prosecutors and judges.

We will also continue developing educational materials for teachers on fighting 
anti-Semitism as well as discrimination against Muslims because as we all know, 
hate crimes do not happen in a vacuum but do take place in a context.  

So I think for us to be effective and to be able to carry out a mandate 
effectively, it will be important in the years ahead to have clear political 
support, I think, from participating States and to have numerous occasions, 
participating States reminding their peers that they have to live up to their 
commitments in terms of data collection and in general, in response and 
prevention of hate crimes.

The second aspect, I think, will be important for us is that we can still draw 
on the expertise of those who already have a lot experience in responding and 
preventing hate crimes.  And the last one, which I think is crucial, are the 
financial resources for ODIHR.  I think my director, Ambassador Lenar?i?, has 
already – on many occasions –

SEN. CARDIN:  We’d be disappointed if you didn’t bring up the financial –

MS. HOHENBERG:  Yes – expressed appreciation – I start with the appreciation 
for the United States’ extraordinary contributions.  I think in particular for 
the Tolerance and Nondiscrimination Department which, I think, would have never 
started this pioneering work in Europe and hate crimes without the financial 
support.

Unfortunately, we can deplore that the contributions have decreased 
progressively and have ceased completely in 2007.  So we really hope that this 
financial support will resume in the year ahead and that we will be able to 
carry out the task that we have – actually have been given to us by 
participating States.

SEN. CARDIN:  And we agree with that.  Sen. Voinovich has been one of our 
leaders on this issue on the appropriations process but we absolutely agree 
that the mandate of ODIHR has been expanded over the years and the reliability 
of the budget support has not been there.  We need to do a much better job.  

I just want to get some response as to what migration has – the number of – 
increase of migration has had on the concerns on discrimination.  There’s 
significant intolerance against immigrants in all of the member states.  With 
tough economic times, those pressures can grow even stronger and we – some of 
you have mentioned that the minorities and communities, well, they’ve only 
grown as a result of migration.

So I just want to get your assessment as to how that has impacted your missions 
– for any one of you who might want to talk about the migration issue.

MR. MAURO:  Thank, Chairman.  Only a brief consideration in the sense that 
surely it’s clear, for example, that religion is not the solution for the 
problems of – for the political problems.  But at the same time, it is not 
correct, for example, for the political level to try to solve the problems 
fighting religions.

And this is one of the facts linked to the difficulties in the relationship 
between the immigrants and the different countries because it’s clear in 
different countries that in great difficulties linked to the economic crisis.  
For example, a lot of parties search – tried to solve their problems attacking 
immigrants.

And for example, in some countries of Europe, this fact created the condition 
for a great tension that is new for these countries, it is absolutely not usual 
for the traditional and for the normal level of the political debate in these 
countries.  It’s new and it’s very important to underline, to stress this fact 
because it’s clearly potentially effect with the very important consequence for 
the future.

At the same time, when these position become the normal position of a new 
generation, it becomes also a problem of the system of the education and for 
example, this is very clear in a lot of European countries that are – that have 
not the attitude to have a lot of immigrants.  If it’s possible to make also a 
consideration about your introducing speech, it’s very important when Mr. 
Voinovich said education, education, education.

It’s absolutely the fact that we need in a very particular manner.  But at the 
same time, we need for a better strategy -- to favor the strategy of education. 
 And I think that try to improve the extra-budgetary strategy talking about the 
efforts of ODIHR is a good intention but I am a politician and normally I know, 
that the only manner to improve extra-budgetary strategy is to create the 
condition for which it become a budget line and not extra-budgetary.

And this is, I think, one of the most important problem in the OSCE activity 
because we need to become a budget line of the activity and I think that the 
prestigious Commission – Helsinki Commission of the U.S. Congress is very 
important to obtain this result.

SEN. CARDIN:  Mr. Mauro, before I turn over to my colleagues, I want to ask you 
one specific question.  I hoped you would clarify a comment that was made at 
the Warsaw Human Dimensions Implementation Conference, which I believe all 
three of you were – I think you were participating about those who dress in 
clothes that could be perceived by the community – religious garments that 
could be perceived as being extremist, saying that perhaps it’s understandable 
violence against individuals.

I would like you, if you could, to clarify that statement.  Obviously, we’re 
all concerned about protecting everyone’s freedom and the practice of wearing 
religious garments is one that is protected under Helsinki principles.


MR. MAURO:  Yes, very briefly, as probably my colleague, Akhmetov, just 
clarified this point – for example, Islamic fundamentalism is an ideology, it 
is not the Islamic religion.  Fundamentalism used the name of God for a project 
of power.  If we try to combat this phenomenon, but we use a strategy aimed to 
combat the Islamic religion, surely we don’t use the right strategy. Therefore, 
in this way we would make a big mistake which will cause big consequences, 
improving in our societies inopportune tensions.

I think that when we consider a religion dangerous for the pacific coexistence, 
we create the condition for new tensions. In this sense, it’s very important to 
clarify, to give a right interpretation of the potentiality of religion and of 
the institutional and public role of religion.

SEN. CARDIN:  But you do acknowledge that society needs to protect the safety 
of all of its citizens and that you cannot justify action against individuals 
because of the manner in which they are dressed, as part of their religion.

MR. MAURO:  Yes, in general, I think that we are obliged to guarantee the 
safety and the security in our society and we have to discover if beyond 
religious motivation, there is a project of power. This is true not only in 
case of religious problems or tensions.  For example, we can consider the 
phenomenon of migration. I’m Italian and I have a lot of relatives in this 
country that were immigrants a long time ago. 

They are free and they are happy because surely, USA institutions, long time 
ago, made a battle against the Italian mafia in order to safeguard their rights 
to be free citizens. I think that in Europe and in the OSCE region, we are 
obliged to do this kind of battle in order to give to all the men and women the 
possibility to live their religion separated from the misuse of religion for a 
project of power.

SEN. CARDIN:  I agree with your statement, but I just caution – I mean I think 
of Hasidic Jews and attacks on Hasidic Jews because they look different and 
they’re practicing their religion.  They have every right and they’re protected 
under OSCE principles.  I think of the Muslim population and the garments that 
they wear.  They’re protected under Helsinki.  I just distinguish that from the 
manner in which they dress from the actions that radicals propose.  I think 
it’s a separate issue.

MR. MAURO:  I fully agree.  I think that to try to find this equilibrium is 
exactly our job.

SEN. CARDIN:  Congressman Hastings.

REP. ALCEE HASTINGS (D-FL):  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and I thank our 
presenters.  Regrettably, I have a hearing that has started that I have to go 
to, so I will uncustomarily not ask any questions and pass along all to 
Congressman Smith and Sen. Voinovich any opportunity.  But I do not wish to 
fail to thank the representatives for the work that they do and to acknowledge 
that there seems to be rife in the OSCE, almost a denial of the fact that these 
issues of major consequence exist in a variety of countries in the OSCE region. 
 

And it’s particularly disturbing because it would appear to me that we are 
making progress but it’s by comparison to the problem, the progress is too slow 
and I don’t quite, at this point, know where we go with the impending issues 
such as the migration problems that all of us understand enhance racism and 
xenophobia and anti-Semitism and one feeds off of the other.  

The economic downturn creates additional pressures on individuals and 
societies.  And these things are not going to diminish overnight.  And so the 
personal representatives have extraordinary work ahead of them and I would 
definitely hope that we can complement them as we have in the past by 
continuing to put a light on what is obviously an ongoing problem of major 
consequence.  And I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. CARDIN:  Thank you very much, Congressman Hastings.  Congressman Smith?

REP. CHRIS SMITH (R-NJ):  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  Rabbi Baker, in 
your country report on Spain, you pointed out that there were three surveys 
that showed an alarming degree of anti-Semitism, including one by the Spanish 
Education Ministry that reported that 50 percent of adolescent students said 
that they did not want to, quote, “sit next to a Jew.”  

You also pointed out that the negative views are frequently amplified in the 
Spanish press.  You say most manifestations of anti-Semitism are to be found in 
the press, but also that there’s an intertwining of opposition to Israeli 
politics and anti-Semitism.  That line of demarcation has been fudged.  

We’ll all recall because all of us, I think, were there, when Natan Sharansky 
made that very impassioned, very incisive speech at the Berlin Conference on 
anti-Semitism, when he talked about disagreements with Israel are legitimate, 
that within the Knesset obviously, there are very robust debates as there ought 
to be, as there is in the U.S. Congress.  But that doesn’t spill over into 
hatred.  And yet, those differences are often used as a pretext for hatred and 
you seem to have found it, to a great degree, in Spain.

So my question – and I have a number of questions and I’ll lay them all out and 
then you know, our distinguished panelists can answer them, what can be done 
vis-à-vis Spain?  The Spanish situation seems to have evaded much scrutiny over 
the years.  You do point out that there are upwards of 40,000 Jews, relative to 
the 44 million population of Spain.  You know, it’s a small minority but 
sometimes, the smaller the minority, the more extreme the ability of others to 
persecute and discriminate.

I’d also like to ask the three reps, do the three of you dialogue?  For 
example, in the Central Asian countries, there are significant numbers of 
instances of discrimination against Christians, especially particular 
denominations.  

And I’m wondering if – do you talk to Mr. Mauro and vice versa, to you know, so 
that when you are talking to authorities in the Central Asian countries, and 
where there is a dominance of Muslim belief but there are also some pious 
Muslims who are discriminated against there, do you raise the issue and say you 
know, these states have an obligation to protect these minorities?  So do you 
talk to each other?  

Bosnia, it seems to me, would present a classic case where all three of the 
world’s great religions could collaborate further.  Mustafa Ceri? was in town 
last week, the grand mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina.  And, you know, I believe he 
is an outstanding religious leader who has made it very clear that the entity 
voting is now leading to very, very bad consequences.  

And, you know, it s a relic of Dayton; it needs to be reformed so that the 
parliament can function.  And even in your statement, Rabbi Baker, you pointed 
out that Bosnia has yet to pass legislation restituting former communal and 
private property.  Obviously draft legislation won’t move until there is a real 
functioning parliament.  So it seems to me that there is an opportunity to 
remedy a large number of these religious issues if you get a functioning 
parliament up and running in Bosnia.  

And so I wonder if there is any talk of, you know, working together on Bosnia 
and making that a focus because there you have large numbers of Muslims, large 
number of Christians and a not insignificant number of Jewish people who live 
there.  If you can touch on that it is perhaps a test case that you might want 
to raise.  

And, finally, Mr. Mauro, if you could speak to the issue of discrimination and 
intolerance by both Western European elites, which I believe is bad and getting 
worse in terms of dismissiveness towards Christian beliefs and the socialist 
trends towards all people of all faiths, including Christians.  We know that 
Chavez’s Venezuela is not in the OSCE space but we know that he and other 
socialists have really declared war on religion, most recently with his decree 
about religious teaching in schools in Venezuela. 

We know Spain has a disproportionate, perhaps positive impact on many countries 
of Latin America, and we wonder how much of that influence may be manifesting 
here in our own hemisphere – but this idea of the Western European elites and 
also the socialists with regard to religion who have very little tolerance for 
things religion.  

RABBI BAKER:  Thank you for the opportunity to expand on this and respond, Rep. 
Smith.  Spain, as we found, is a country where the Jewish population is less 
than one one-hundredth of 1 percent, so if someone is interested in attacking a 
Jew in Spain, they probably have work to do to find one.  But, at the same 
time, we also know that you don’t need a Jewish population even to have 
anti-Semitism.  I think that there were these sort of limited surveys that 
showed a rather strikingly high degree of negative views towards Jews.  

And in discussions with the government officials, it was an opportunity really 
to, again – to me it is a puzzling question why.  In most cases, the general 
assumption was, it is what comes through the media.  Maybe not only, I mean you 
have a very traditional Catholic country from the days of Franco and elements 
there may contribute to an anti-Jewish sentiment – even its legacy of an 
inquisition centuries ago.  But no question the way the media portrays, largely 
it portrays the Middle East conflict in a very negative way towards Israel and 
I heard from officials – again, they are really surmising this – that that has 
an impact on how Spanish citizens view Jews or how kids do in this one quick 
survey. 

Some of the things that are taking place try to get at this issue:  There is a 
very serious and comprehensive survey that an arm of the, the Foreign Ministry, 
Casa Sefarad Israel institution, is undertaking.  So at least that ought to 
give a clearer picture, not only of attitudes but maybe a better understanding 
of why those attitudes exist.  

REP. SMITH:  Point of clarification on the media:  Is it the socialist media?  
Is it the general across the board or all media?

RABBI BAKER:  I think that people would say, it’s across the board, that there 
is a general attitude in society that is often reflected in the media.  I’m not 
an expert; presumably there may be more newspapers than others.  I think we 
would also say that when you don’t have context, you don’t have reference, then 
there is a conflation between Israelis and Jews often.  So even if it might not 
be viewed as necessarily a critical article, if the image is soldiers and I 
mean that is the only image that conveys something –

It was pointed out to me, during one of my conversations informally, it is not 
in the report, but with an official in the Justice Ministry who said in 
passing, you know, I’ve been invited to many conferences on Islamophobia; I’ve 
never been invited to a conference on anti-Semitism.  And I think the sense of 
perhaps people not really knowing and understanding and appreciating this is an 
important thing that we can get at.  

I was heartened by the fact that there was an openness in the human rights 
office in the Foreign Ministry to try to do something, recognizing, too, media 
plays a critical role; perhaps bringing together media, organizing a conference 
that would be perhaps a neutral umbrella that can bring them in; focusing on 
not only Jews, but other minorities in the media but a way again of getting at 
this.  So perhaps, again some of it could be with the support of ODIHR, the 
representative of freedom of the media, independent sources; we could move 
there.  But it is a troubling situation.  

I met with teachers of the Holocaust.  They’re eager; they’re enthused in doing 
this and at the same time, in January, this year, which was the date in which 
it is commemorated, we heard stories, well, because of the war in Gaza we can’t 
do it.  We have principals telling us don’t do it this year, or saying what you 
need to do is focus on the plight of Palestinians as though there’s an 
equation.  So this was a troubling thing.  

I would comment, too, regarding Bosnia, because again it has a very small 
Jewish community.  I think it feels comfortable, historically rooted, but you 
see in the society and echoes to I think taking up this issue, the discussions 
can be broader ranging than just the issue of anti-Semitism.  You have now a 
kind of fixed ethnic division policy.  You have a program, one of the most 
complicated things to understand is how education works in Bosnia and 
Herzegovina.  There was not one education minister to meet with; there was I 
think 13.  In all of the different regions, you have an institution; I think 
they refer to it as two schools under one roof.  

It was a way, after the war, to try to bring things back to in a temporary 
stage to some normalcy.  But what it meant it is, ethnic groups go to school in 
the morning:  one group in the morning, one group in the afternoon.  So they’re 
growing up without any kind of direct interaction.  It will only reinforce an 
ethnic division.  As I say, Jews are so small they don’t really fit in this 
picture.  But I think it points to the difficulties that you’ve identified. 

And then, finally, when you ask about our conversing together among the three 
of us and so on, I hope we will do more.  I mean, we obviously suffer from the 
fact that I’m in Washington; Sen. Akhmetov is in Astana; Mr. Mauro is in Milan 
or Brussels or Strasbourg.  But, you know, to get us all together, I mean, in a 
way, this hearing not only provides an opportunity for us to speak to you but 
for us to speak to the three of us because at least we’ll be together for a 
couple of days here and in Canada.  

AMB. AKHMETOV:  So regarding the discrimination of Christians in Central Asian 
countries, including Kazakhstan, I would say that Kazakhstan is historically 
located on the crossroads between Asia and Europe.  And you know that it is a 
very multinational country:  130 nationalities and minorities live under the 
same roof, under one roof.  And more than 40 confessions are there.  And we 
acquired our independence in 1991 and since then, not a single clash has ever 
been registered. 

Simply our constitution prohibits any kind of discrimination.  And as you know, 
during the Soviet period, not only mosques and churches and synagogues – all of 
them were banned, but now, they’re coming up.  And Jewish synagogues are there; 
Orthodox churches are there; mosques are there.  And there is no problem 
between these religions.  

On the other hand, our president initiated Congress of World and the 
Traditional Religions and we have held three congresses already, beginning in 
2001, and then in 2003 and then in 2009.  The third one was very 
representative:  77 delegations came from all over the world.  And by the way, 
Simon Peres, the president of Israel, participated.  And he gave a speech, and 
I would say he was very positive about the interreligious, intercultural 
dialogue in Kazakhstan.  

And historically, Kazakh people are tolerant, and once, we became minorities 
ourselves, because during the Soviet period, after – during the Second World 
War, Stalin deported a lot of Caucasians to Kazakhstan – and not only 
Caucasians – the Koreans from the Far East.  And during the development of 
virgin lands, a lot of Ukrainians came to Kazakhstan, a lot of Belarusians, 
Uzbeks and everybody is there.  But tolerance is there – not a single clash, 
thank God.  And we enjoy this peaceful coexistence.  And everybody understands 
that the stability of Kazakhstan depends upon the stability of the interethnic 
and interreligious and intercivilizational dialogue.

And in my new capacity, I participated in the last Congress in Astana.  Then I 
participated also in Krakow Congress in Poland and also, another congress in 
Geneva, initiated by the custodian of two mosques – Saudi Arabian king’s 
initiative.  And wherever I was, I drew one truth:  Leaders of religions should 
accent, should underline, their common values, not differences.  

The same idea was stressed by President Obama when he gave his speech in Cairo. 
 And it was a triumphant speech, I would say, and we were very impressed – not 
only Kazakhstani people, but people all over the world, and I think Americans, 
too.  Because he gave the values that Muslim culture, Muslim civilization 
contributed to the world civilization.  And his speech is a very good example.  

And in this context, I would like to mention one thing.  We have a sister city 
in the United States:  Tucson, Arizona.  It is still our sister city with 
Almaty.  And I represented Almaty in Tucson, Arizona, for 3 years.  And I know 
that America is a very multinational country.  And every year, Tucson 
celebrates “Tucson, Know Yourself.”  One day, they celebrate – they 
demonstrate, there, clothes, costumes; the second day there, cuisine; and the 
third day there, culture, songs, dances and everywhere.  I even won a prize 
there with my wife.  

And this understanding should be there.  You see, if we accent on the common 
values, then of course – if we bring up our children on the basis of common 
values between religions, between cultures and between civilizations – and much 
depends upon education and on bringing up children from the cradle.  There is a 
Kazakh saying:  What you have tasted in your nest, you will hunt when you fly.  
The second meaning is, we should bring up our children properly, see?  

On the other hand, I would like to cite the Quran – and President Obama also 
cited the Quran; not only the Quran, but other scripts.  There is one I had:  
Islam is the religion of Prophet Abraham, it is the religion of Moses; it is 
the religion of other prophets until Mohammed; and Mohammed respected all his 
predecessors.  

And why this understanding is missing?  It is lack of knowledge.  It is lack of 
education.  If we bring up our children, if we bring up our citizens on these 
common values, a lot of things will be eliminated.  And I’ll give you one more 
example:  While I was in Tucson, I was very surprised – every American knows 
who John Wayne was – prominent actor who played a lot of roles in cowboy films. 
 And he left a will before his death.  And he died of cancer; he smoked.

And I’m quite sure most of the Americans stopped smoking because his video was 
broadcast time and again and time and again.  And today, one person created 
this kind of value.  And that’s why common values should be broadcast widely 
and very often.  We shouldn’t think that if one article was published and 
everybody reads and everybody just comes to – he is guided to the right part – 
no.  These kinds of values should be, time and again, repeatedly propagated on 
TV, in newspapers – common values.  

And when common values are shared by everybody, I think a lot of problems – a 
lot of challenges are solved easily.  It is because of misunderstanding.  Those 
guys, for example, who target Muslims, I am quite sure they don’t know anything 
about the content of the Bible, content of the Torah or other books, scripts.  
And the Quran says a Muslim who doesn’t respect other – every script, every 
same books, he is not a Muslim, see?  

These kinds of common values should be shared by everybody.  And unfortunately, 
this is missing.  And much depends on us, upon the rulers, upon the 
bureaucracy, upon the government, and we should pay much attention to this 
area, I think.

SEN. CARDIN:  Well-said.

MR. MAURO:  Thank you, Ambassador Akhmetov for your very interesting question, 
but also for your very political question.  It’s clear that asking something –

SEN. CARDIN:  I think you need to push your button one more time.

MR. MAURO:  I’m sorry.  It’s clear that asking something about the strategy of 
the socialists in Europe to a politician, all right, is – (chuckles) – not so 
simple to answer.  But I must win the temptation to answer as a politician, all 
right.  I am here in another role.  And it’s important for me to clarify that 
surely, in Western Europe and union, there is a debate about, for example, the 
concept of liceity because it’s clear that in European culture, religion and 
politics are absolutely separated.  

But at the same time, it’s possible to verify that there is a war of the 
politics against the religion.  Why?  For example, because now, there is in 
Western Europe a great debate about the future of our welfare – of our welfare 
state.  And the Christian confessions, for examples – they have a very 
important role in the education and the health sector.  For this reason, it may 
be possible that sometimes, there are some laws that created difficulties to 
the Christian confessions for their role in the education and the health 
sector.  

It’s important debating of that to create the condition to not be ideological 
because it’s clear a debate in the interest of the new generation.  And for 
this reason, I think that this level of the problem id over discrimination, 
surely not of persecution.  I think that is very important to understand the 
difference, because we, in this moment, have the risk to create a greater 
emphasis talking about the debate about liceity in Western Europe.   

Surely, it’s a level of the debate not new for the European system because also 
in the past, we have had great shock between the political power and the 
churches.  But exactly for this reason, there is now in European culture great 
equilibrium.  And I think it’s in our common interests to preserve this 
equilibrium.  

SEN. CARDIN:  Thank you very much.  Sen. Voinovich?

SEN. VOINOVICH:  Thank you.  I’m interested that you’re all going to different 
places and you rarely have a chance to get together.  And I would hope that you 
would spend some time together.  You each have a symbiotic relationship that if 
you’re going to achieve your respective responsibilities, I think that by your 
working together, you can make it easier for each of you to be successful.

I’m really interested in you coming back to us with some kind of prioritization 
as to the things that you would – that make the most difference, and also how 
those would be funded.  For example, one thing that I’m kind of disappointed to 
hear is, Rabbi Baker, you said that there is finally a definition of 
anti-Semitism that’s agreed to.  

Is there a definition of anti-Muslim?  Is there a definition of anti-religion 
that people could agree to, so that when you say to a country, we want you to 
keep track of incidents dealing with this, that they know what it is that 
they’re supposed to be looking for?  And you have this TANDIS system, but the 
question is, if I’m supposed to keep track of something, what is it that I’m 
supposed to keep track of?  

So you’ve got to have some definition, I think, across the board.  Second of 
all, how do you go about monitoring that?  And I’d be interested in hearing 
from Ms. Hohenberg – your ideas.  How do you – once you have that information, 
how do you have a system in place where you can get the monitoring to take 
place?  And that seems, to me, to be an issue that has to do with the political 
leadership.  

That is, is this important enough – so behind this, I think that through the 
international organization – the OSCE – it should be emphasized that this is a 
very important issue and that we’ve seen that where we have not paid attention 
to this, bad things happen; they get out of control.  And so you want to do 
everything you can to make sure that it doesn’t occur.  Second of all, I would 
like to know a list of the requests that you have made through the electronic, 
extra-budgetary OSCE project requests, and how many of them have been 
entertained.  

Sen. Cardin and others worked very hard to take and put the discrimination – 
tolerance and non-discrimination on the core budget.  Now, why did we do that 
-- we did that because the willingness to pay for this is an indication that 
it’s a priority of the organization.  And so I have – you know, in our Foreign 
Operations report, we have the Organization for Security and Cooperation in 
Europe mentioned in our appropriations.   

The committee supports the role of the OSCE in advancing United States 
interests, including the promotion of human rights, democratic governance and 
the rule of law, as well as efforts to combat human trafficking, sexual 
exploitation of children, and anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance.  

The committee expects the Department of State to provide adequate funding to 
ensure continued United States leadership within the OSCE, including the OSCE’s 
extra-budgetary education and police training initiatives.  And then it goes on 
to say, “combat terrorism in Europe and Eurasia,” but the fact of the matter is 
that, if you talk about going beyond that.  

And it seems that as parliamentarians, we ought to be trying to get 
parliamentarians to say this is important enough to put this kind of language 
in to indicate that they’re supportive of this effort.  So you know, I’d like 
you to comment on – and Ms. Hohenberg, do the people that are responsible in 
each of these areas have enough staffing to get the job done, and what requests 
have you made and how many of them have been entertained?  

MS. HOHENBERG:  Thank you very much for your questions.  I think they’re all 
absolutely topical.  I will start with the first one on the definition – the 
working definition on anti-Semitism and other definitions that would indeed 
allow for collection data that is comparable across the region.  Unfortunately, 
the situation is such that definitions that are used in each state are 
different because they are based on the legal framework – on the existing laws. 
 

And so in lots of states, you have different definitions, of course, on hate 
crimes, on the categories that are included and disaggregated, and as well, on 
the – how the definition of – how hate crime is defined.  Sometimes it’s the 
perception of the offender; and sometimes it’s the perception of the victim; 
sometimes, it’s the perception of the law enforcement.  So you have the whole 
range, I would say, of cases, which make, actually, the little data we receive 
absolutely not comparable.

So of course, we would welcome – for international agencies, it’s wonderful to 
have unique definitions because it allows for comparisons, but it is, indeed, 
not the case.  And it’s very difficult to advocate for that, since states – 

SEN. VOINOVICH:  So an OSCE effort to kind of have a common definition would be 
helpful?  

MS. HOHENBERG:  It would, probably.  The question would be if it would be 
realistic – if, given the political situation, it would be realistic to obtain 
such a definition.  But indeed, for the sake of having comparable and 
comprehensive data, it would indeed be the case.  

On the money train, because it’s very closely connected to that, how to put in 
place, in participating States and by governments, because we all know that it 
is a primary responsibility of states, reliable and comprehensive systems to 
collect data.  And I think, again, ODIHR can provide technical assistance, but 
as long as there’s no political will and there is no leadership on these 
issues, this doesn’t bear fruit.  

So this is why, I think, we are very much in favor of having this human 
dimension event where strong delegations advocate for strong and sound 
monitoring systems, and as well, why we are very much in favor of working very 
closely with the personal representatives.  They are the political arm; they 
are those who can open the doors and convince and advocate for change in 
governments.  And ODIHR can come after to provide the necessary follow-up.

SEN. VOINOVICH:  Can I ask you something?  Do you have – is it information 
that’s available to us of the extra-budgetary requests that you’ve made?  Is 
that part of the records of the OSCE, and can we find out which ones you’ve 
made and which ones have been entertained?  Could you get that for us?

MS. HOHENBERG:  Yes, well, what I can tell you is that, since the request was 
distributed to participating states a week ago, I don’t have the overview on 
the pledges that have been made so far, and I think states are only starting, 
now, to think about – but for tolerance and non-discrimination, we have three 
categories of program.  The first one is a general program called “Prevention 
and Response to Hate Crimes,” including training, data collection, legislative 
assistance, et cetera.  

The second program is on educational materials and raising awareness on 
stereotypes and bias.  These include, in particular, initiatives aimed at 
combating stereotypes about Muslims and Jews.  And a third area, which is 
actually closely collected to tolerance and non-discrimination is the area 
related to freedom of religion and belief because –

SEN. VOINOVICH:  That was what, again, I’m sorry?

MS. HOHENBERG:  Freedom of religion and belief, because interreligious 
dialogue, religious discrimination and religious intolerance is, indeed, quite 
closely linked with the other topics.  But these documents can be put in the 
records of this hearing, I think.

SEN. VOINOVICH:  Well, as I say, I’d like to say which ones have been 
entertained and, as part of a kind of a consensus as to what are the priorities 
and, in order to achieve those priorities, the kind of resources that will be 
necessary to make this possible.  I know I’ve seen the educational materials a 
couple of years ago.  I was quite impressed with them.  But I understand from 
you, Rabbi Baker, that some of countries pay for it and others say they like it 
but they don’t have the money to pay for it.  Is that right?  

RABBI BAKER:  Well, we heard that in – certainly, in Latvia, for example, 
they’d like to develop the materials.  They don’t have the funds they can apply 
to it.  I think other governments may be coming forward to help them.  I think 
there was a desire of groups in Hungary to also have such materials developed 
for their youths.  I suspect – 

SEN. VOINOVICH:  Pardon me, but the materials that I’ve seen, I don’t know why 
– I don’t know if you’ve seen them or not, Mr. Chairman – but they had various 
countries, but they’re pretty much, very much in the same format, and very 
interesting.  What I’m saying is that, you’re saying that Latvia’s got to 
develop them; couldn’t they take the materials coming from OSCE and basically 
say these are good or change them, and then – 

RABBI BAKER:  Well, in fact, that’s what happens.  You know, you have a basic 
kind of template or framework, it needs to be translated into the local 
language, and then elements in it will reflect the history in that country.  So 
there needs to be at least some educational partner to assist in putting that 
together.  I don’t think that’s an enormous difficulty.

Then you have to have the support from an education system.  And again, in this 
case, there’s an open door that would employ it and put it into the – 
primarily, it’s the secondary school curriculum – and then print enough 
material and train teachers to use it.  So there are several steps.  I don’t 
think it – we’re not talking something that would take years to do.  

If – and it seems, and I follow from what Floriane said, that it seems to have 
been the practice that I can – when we visit, we can open doors, for whatever 
reason – and I want to say, I hope it’s all positive and on the merits – 
there’s an interest in ministries being forthcoming in response.  So I think we 
should seize those moments to be able to say okay, let’s put this in place.  Or 
in some cases, it needs to be at least financially supplemented.  There’s not 
enough materials printed to really make its way through the schools, for 
example.  So you know, in some cases, it’s simply the government picking up 
responsibility for it.  

SEN. VOINOVICH:  Well, it seems to me that you do the doable.  And each of you, 
as you go around, you find countries that you’re dealing with recognize there’s 
a problem, they want to do something about it.  They seem to be receptive.  And 
if they are, then we should take advantage of it.  Now, there are others that 
may not be as supportive, but let’s start working on the ones that are 
receptive to it and help them do the job.  And as they move along, maybe others 
will then start to follow in line.

One of the thoughts I had, if we have this – I haven’t talked to your 
ambassador yet about a special meeting in April sometime – a question of 
anti-Semitism.  The issue would be to single out countries that are doing a 
good job.  In other words, we always bang people over the head; let’s 
congratulate countries that are doing a good job and let them kind of set the 
precedent.  And other people are there and they say hey, they’re doing it; 
maybe we should be doing that.  I’m anxious to have you come back and make your 
recommendations to us on how we can help you to do a better job with the job 
we’re asking you to do.  Thank you.

SEN. CARDIN:  Thank you, Sen. Voinovich.  We’ve been joined by Congresswoman 
Gwen Moore.  

REP. GWEN MOORE (D-WI): Thank you, Sen. Cardin, and I want to thank the U.S. 
Helsinki Commission, for allowing me to sit in on these meetings.  I am so 
delighted to be here with the personal representatives, the representative of 
the chair of the personal representatives on combating anti-Semitism, 
intolerance and discrimination against Muslims and intolerance  and 
discrimination against Christians and members of other religions.  Did we leave 
anybody out?  

It’s so amazing to me, and I think we have really – Mr. Chairman, we have 
really done a great deal in the OSCE region to really combine all of these 
intolerances into one effort to demonstrate to everyone in the OSCE region that 
intolerance, as Martin Luther King said, intolerance and injustice to one 
person is injustice to everyone.  And if we could get that message out as a 
coherent message that there’s – we’re all stakeholders in anti-discrimination 
against each other, I think we will have gone a long way.

My specific questions – one, perhaps, is to Miss Hohenberg.  Given the 
organizing principle of all religions to say, you know, my way is the way, you 
know – Allah is the way, you know, Jesus is the way, no religion is the way, 
that we need to follow the Jewish traditions of thousands of years and that is 
truly the only way to go – given that, to what extent is our operations, our 
educational materials, our briefings, do they involve religious communities and 
religious leaders in terms of raising their consciousness about continuing to 
practice their own religions, but to also make them aware of how their messages 
can feed some intolerance?   

MS. HOHENBERG:  Thank you very much for your question, Congresswoman.  The 
educational materials that have been developed by ODIHR to combat stereotypes 
and bias against Jews and that have been, now, developed to combat stereotypes 
against Muslims actually do not – I would say do not talk about religion.  It’s 
really about representations, of misrepresentations of history, of the 
contributions.  And it’s about putting facts and giving information on the 
reality of the contribution and the existence of communities within societies.

This is the first part of my answer.  The second part is, indeed, ODIHR’s also 
developed teaching guidelines on teaching about religions in public schools.  
These guidelines that were developed two years ago were developed after ODIHR 
and another number of international actors, actually, had realized that their – 
that intolerance would be nurtured by ignorance – by ignorance about other 
religions.  

So these guidelines set the rules or give indications to educators on how they 
can inform about other religions in schools.  They would, in no case, I think, 
replace religious teaching done by community leaders.  This is simply something 
different that is supplementary and complementary – in no way something that 
replaces religious teaching.  I hope I have answered your question.

REP. MOORE:  Anyone else like to respond to that?  I see Rabbi chomping at the 
bit, and I do have a question for you, too.

RABBI BAKER:  I do want to say that I think that the special nature of the OSCE 
is it’s where civil society sits at the same table as governments, and civil 
society may be broader than just religious representation, but it includes 
that.  So I think you do have religious groups, as well as other 
non-governmental groups, that are sitting around the table in part of these 
discussions.

I think as Floriane said, the programs may not be focused on religious groups, 
but the goal, of course, is quite inclusive.

REP. MOORE:  There’s a bell ringing for somebody.  When the bell tolls, it’s 
probably –

SEN. CARDIN:  The Senate has a vote on.

REP. MOORE:  If can I just ask one follow-up question?  Rabbi, I was really 
intrigued by a comment you made, wanted you to expand on it a little bit, about 
– it was sort of a caution – beware of these hate crimes legislation and the 
unintended consequences.  We, in the House, took a vote on hate crimes and we 
had some, you know, members who are fairly progressive in a lot of ways giving 
us that same caution.  Can you just expand a little bit on your precaution 
against hate crimes legislation?

RABBI BAKER:  Well, yes.  It was really more a focus on what we see – we 
wouldn’t see in this country, but we see in various places in Europe – where 
you have laws that are designed to restrict hate speech.  So it’s not in terms 
of hate crimes themselves, but we are trying to control the kind of hateful 
speech that you’ll find in newspapers, on the Internet and so on.  I think we 
have a tradition in the United States of confronting that kind of speech with 
public rebuke – with strong speech in return.

I think in some societies, based on the history, based on other aspects, there 
are laws that prohibit certain kinds of speech.  So for example, in Germany – 
some other European countries as well – Holocaust denial is prohibited.  We can 
debate theoretically, is that a good way to get at the problem, but on the 
ground, I think what we have seen in different places is that those laws don’t 
necessarily work very well.  Not many people are prosecuted or convicted, and 
even some who are, the fines are so small, the process takes so long, you can 
question whether they’re deterred by it.  

And finally, I think we’ve seen some examples in some societies where political 
leaders use it as a way to get off the hook.  They don’t have to speak out 
strongly because they can say we have a prosecutor, he’s investigating – so 
it’s really more that – you know, those specific types of laws that I refer to. 
 

REP. MOORE:  Thank you.

SEN. CARDIN:  Well, thank you very much, Congresswoman Moore.  And let me again 
thank all of our special representatives and our representative from ODIHR.  
The work you’re doing, as I said at the outset of this hearing, is extremely 
important.  It’s at the highest priority of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and I 
think the United States government has made this one of its highest priorities. 
 

It was good to have you all here.  If we were the reason for the three of you 
to get together to talk more about common strategies, that was a very important 
part of our strategy here.  Each of you brings great talent.  And Mr. 
Ambassador, I think the way that you summarized the answer to Congressman 
Smith’s question is what we all believe.  And it was a very important message 
that we need to echo and strengthen.  And I did have a chance, when I was in 
Kazakhstan, to see the embracement of tolerance by your – religious tolerance 
by your leadership.  

And that is a model, I think, for certainly, the region and I think, 
internationally.  So we thank you for your individual work that you’re doing 
and we just urge you to coordinate as much as possible so that talent can be 
utilized.  And we certainly appreciate the work that ODIHR does in coordinating 
and staffing this effort.  And Sen. Voinovich’s point about the budget issues, 
I think, is of interest to our commission and we’ll do the best we can to make 
sure that you have the resources to carry out the work that you’re doing. 

We always look forward to conferences.  I think the point that was raised, also 
by Sen. Voinovich, which is that, as we look to new conferences, we need to 
figure out ways in which avoid an exercise in rehashing, but move forward and 
advancing.  And I thought his point about showcasing the best states and best 
practices is something that we need to explore and look into, because that 
could help, I think, all three representatives in your work.  And with that, 
let me again thank you on behalf of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and our 
hearing stands adjourned.  

(END)