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CIVITAS 2023 and the Transformation of European Youth through Active Citizenship

CIVITAS 2023 and the Transformation of European Youth through Active Citizenship

The EU's fundamental principles and ideals serve as a compass for a more inclusive and progressive society. Youth, as the future European citizens, must have their voices amplified, participating actively in decisions that shape their destinies. They are often at the forefront of change, with fresh perspectives and innovative ideas for a better world. However, many young individuals miss opportunities to engage with the EU due to barriers like limited knowledge of the Union's workings, media literacy gaps, and a shortage of critical thinking skills.

The CIVITAS, an Erasmus+ funded project aimed at promoting active citizenship through youth work. From September 29 to October 7, 2023, representatives of Fedactio embarked on a week-long training journey in Veli Iž, Croatia. Hosted by Udruga Prizma, an association dedicated to empowering young people and youth workers across Croatia and Europe. This training provided a nurturing environment for various participants from different cultures and countries to connect, share experiences, knowledge, and viewpoints.

The overarching goal of the CIVITAS project is to elevate the quality of youth work within partner organizations by primarily focusing on non-formal education methods. This comprehensive effort involves enhancing the knowledge of youth workers concerning the functioning of the EU, its common values, and fundamental rights. Simultaneously, it equips these youth workers with the essential tools to promote media literacy and nurture critical thinking among young people. And it also try to teach young people, how can they contribute to their communities through active citizenship. Additionally, the project fosters a collaborative environment that facilitates the exchange of experiences among participating organizations. This exchange of insights and best practices serves to leverage non-formal education as a potent vehicle for promoting active citizenship among the youth.

Nine countries, including Udruga Prizma from Croatia and Fedactio from Belgium, took part in this transformative training initiative. The partners included Ottovolante Sulcis from Italy, VitaTiim from Estonia, Splora from Spain, Young Folks from Latvia, Tavo Europa Lithuania, Sdrujenie “Nadejda CRD” from Bulgaria, IGOR from Croatia. This diverse consortium converged with a shared purpose - to empower young Europeans with knowledge, skills, and a sense of unity.

During the training sessions, participants engaged in active discussions centered on critical topics such as the European Union (EU) and its fundamental values, including an exploration of fundamental rights. Delving further into the realm of media literacy and logical fallacies, participants dissected the intricacies of discerning credible information in today's digital landscape. These discussions provided valuable insights into identifying logical errors and biases in media and political discourse. Additionally, participants explored ways to foster media literacy among young people, equipping them with the tools to navigate the information age with clarity and discernment. The training also touched on the importance of voting, pondering the universal applicability of EU values, and contemplating concepts like equality, equity, and the role of non-discrimination policies in nurturing active citizenship. Participants also delved into strategies for electoral system reform and methods to invigorate political participation, all within the context of their training on EU-related topics.

A diverse range of engaging non-formal education activities enriched the training experience. Participants had the opportunity to partake in a "World Cafe" session, where they explored the concept of active citizenship in an interactive and dynamic setting. The "Percipio Game" added an element of gamification to the learning process, making it both enjoyable and informative. Meanwhile, the "Four Corners" activity delved into EU values and their relation to active citizenship, prompting thought-provoking discussions. Workshops were also an integral part of the training, with one focusing on logical fallacies and mental biases, equipping participants with critical thinking skills. Another workshop tackled the critical issue of fake news, arming attendees with tools to navigate the information landscape discerningly. Lastly, "Fishbowl Conversations" provided a forum for in-depth discussions on the intersection of youth and active citizenship, fostering meaningful dialogue and exchange of ideas among participants. These innovative educational activities not only enhanced understanding but also encouraged active participation and engagement among trainees.

In summary, CIVITAS 2023 has been a vital stepping stone towards nurturing active citizenship among European youth. Through interactive training sessions and engaging activities, participants from nine countries gained valuable insights into EU values, media literacy, and critical thinking. This initiative, funded by Erasmus+, has equipped these young individuals with the knowledge and skills to empower the next generation of active citizens. As they return to their respective communities, they carry with them the tools to promote meaningful change, fostering a brighter and more inclusive future for Europe.

This article reflects the views only of the authors (Suleiman, Ayperi, Ihsan and Burak), and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Open Call for Youth Advocacy Team Members

Project: Citizen Z - Enhancing Civic Engagement and Democratic Participation

Click here to open the PDF version

Application Deadline: 4 September 2023

Are you a young person aged 18-25 who wants to make a difference in society? Do you want to be part of shaping the future of democracy, education, climate action, employment, and other important issues in Europe? If so, we invite you to join the Youth Advocacy Team of the Citizen Z project.

Contemporary political attitudes often show disengagement and indifference, particularly among young people. The Citizen Z project aims to address this issue by empowering EU citizens, especially the youth, to actively participate in democratic processes and fostering inclusion within the European Union. By joining the Youth Advocacy Team, you will have the opportunity to contribute to strengthening democratic participation, creating informed choices among citizens and address recommendations to the European Parliament.

Objectives of the Citizen Z Project:

  • Strengthen democratic participation among youth

  • Give young citizens the means to take initiatives and play an active part in civic and democratic life (e.g. Citizens’ Assemblies)

  • Bring young citizens closer to the EU

  • Counter misinformation and contribute to informed choices and decisions among citizens


As a Youth Advocacy Team member, your role will be to consult, advocate, and promote the youth vision within the Citizen Z project and beyond. We want to know your point of view and we believe that young people should be empowered to take ownership of the initiative and be their own spokespeople. By joining the Youth Advocacy Team you will be offered the opportunity to participate in youth exchanges (local or/and abroad), summer school programs and certified training. You will have the opportunity to attend external events at the EU institutions using our network, to participate in panels with policy-makers and other stakeholders and to meet the experts of your priority topics. You will also have the chance to participate in cultural and team building activities, to publish on the subject of your interest and to shape and organize events on the topics of your interest. Don't let others speak on your behalf—take action and advocate for young people. Make your voice heard!


  • Participate in bi-monthly meetings

  • Contribute to the activities of the Citizen Z project

  • Engage in deliberations on various topics of public interest

  • Promote the interests, vision, and priorities of young people 

  • Advocate for specific issues and raise awareness

  • Collaborate with a diverse team of engaged young individuals

  • Collaborate with external organizations and attend events at places such as the European Parliament, European Committee of the Regions, Emergency Response Coordination Centre, etc.

  • Network with other young advocates and decision-makers


  • Aged between 18-25 years

  • Fluent in English (French or Dutch is a plus)

  • Strong interest in democratic participation, political processes, and societal issues

  • Ability to work effectively in a team and contribute to constructive discussions

  • Willingness to engage in regular meetings and project-related activities

How to apply?

To apply for the Youth Advocacy Team, we invite you to send us:

  • Your Curriculum Vitae (CV): Provide a detailed summary of your background, education, work experience, and any relevant achievements.

  • Motivation: Share your motivation for joining the Youth Advocacy Team. You can choose to express it in the form of a letter or a video, showcasing your enthusiasm and explaining how you would like to contribute to the Citizen Z project. 


Tell us what are your areas of Interest.


Answer this question: What are the most important issues to be addressed in nowadays society? How does it relate to you? (max ½ page).

Please send the following to and by 4 September 2023 at the latest. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to us at the provided email addresses. Good luck with your application!


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Fostering Critical Thinking and Media Literacy in the Next Generation: Developing European Youth's Skills for a Brighter Future

At a time when European societies have never been so pressured and polarised in the context of the post-pandemic, the Ukrainian crisis and climate change, it is important to highlight the key role of critital thinking amongst European youth in building a better future. As we all know, critical thinking is a vital skill that allows us to evaluate information, arguments, and evidence in a logical and unbiased manner. It enables us to make informed decisions, to solve problems effectively, and to communicate clearly and persuasively. In today's fast-paced and complex world, the ability to think critically is more important than ever. In this context, Fedactio's team participated in "Razor", a 10 days training course about "Promoting critical thinking through youth work" organised by Udruga Prizma in Zadar (Croatia). The program was co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.

In contemporary European society, there are many challenges to critical thinking. One of the most significant challenges is the abundance of misinformation and propaganda that circulates, especially online. With the proliferation of fake news, conspiracy theories, and biased sources, it can be difficult to discern what is true and what is not. This is especially problematic in an era of echo chambers and filter bubbles, where people are more likely to encounter only information that confirms their preexisting beliefs and biases. This can include fake news about scientific and political issues, as well as real news about conflicts, economic crises, and other important events. Given the importance of critical thinking in today's world, it is crucial that we are able to identify and evaluate the reliability of the information we receive, especially when it comes to issues that have significant impacts on society. Another challenge to critical thinking is the pressure to conform to certain beliefs and values. In today's highly polarised and divisive political climate, there is often a social and emotional cost to expressing dissenting opinions or asking tough questions. This can discourage people from engaging in critical thinking and suppress the free exchange of ideas that is essential for a healthy democracy.

What youth workers can do to overcome these challenges and promote critical thinking in European society ?

One solution is to educate ourselves and others about the principles and practices of critical thinking. This can involve seeking out diverse and reliable sources of information, learning how to identify and evaluate arguments and evidence, and developing the ability to think creatively and independently. By develping these skills and applying them in our daily lives, we can become more informed and engaged citizens, better able to navigate the complexities of the modern world.

Why critical thiking is so important as a tool of active citizenship ?

By using critical thinking skills, European Union citizens and future citizens can learn how to identify and evaluate false or misleading information, and to distinguish it from reliable sources. They can also learn how to question the validity of the information they receive and to express their thoughts and opinions in a well-reasoned and respectful manner. These skills are essential for navigating the complex and often confusing landscape of information in the digital age, and for participating meaningfully in public discourse and decision-making. Critical thinking is an important tool for active citizenship because it allows individuals to make informed decisions, to engage in effective problem-solving, and to communicate effectively with others. By evaluating information, arguments, and evidence in a logical and unbiased manner, people can form their own opinions and take action based on their beliefs and values. For example, critical thinking can help citizens to participate meaningfully in public discourse and decision-making. Whether it is voting in elections, advocating for a cause, or engaging with government officials, the ability to think critically allows individuals to make informed choices and to communicate their views in a clear and persuasive manner. In addition, critical thinking can help citizens to address social and political issues in their communities and beyond. By analysing problems and considering multiple perspectives, people can develop creative and effective solutions to challenges such as poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation.

Who participated ?

A total of 8 organizations participated in the "Razor" training project in Zadar, Croatia, which was led by Udruga Prizma. The other organizations included Fedactio from Belgium, DrOne from Croatia, EduEra from Slovakia, Asociación Promesas from Spain, Hang-Kép Kulturális Egyesület from Hungary, Ottovalante Sulcis from Italy, and Teatro Metaphora from Portugal. The host organization, Udruga Prizma, provided a supportive and inclusive environment for the representatives of the participating organizations to discuss their ideas and experiences on this topic and exchange views.

Which objectives were accomplished ?

The goal of the project was to improve the ability of partner organizations to promote critical thinking among young people through their youth work. This has been achieved through the following specific objectives:
- Enhancing the knowledge and skills of youth workers from partner organizations in the areas of critical thinking and conspiracy theories.
- Utilizing non-formal education methods to foster critical thinking in youth work.
- Sharing experiences and information among participating organizations on how to use non-formal education to promote critical thinking among young people.

Which topics have been covered ?

The training covered a range of sub-topics related to critical thinking, including contemporary issues, conspiracy theories, the impact of social media, and fallacies and biases. These topics provided valuable insights and skills for understanding and practicing critical thinking, such as how to verify the accuracy of an article or how fake news is created. The information shared and discussed during the training was of great importance for fostering a more rational and informed youth in the EU countries, which is a key European value. The training was interactive and focused on exchanging information and opinions, which helped participants to understand each other and identify fallacies and biases in practice. The training session on societal issues provided valuable insights and perspectives on a range of important topics. For example, participants learned about the importance of feminism and gender equality, as well as the challenges and obstacles that women and other marginalized groups face in society. They also explored the concept of freedom and how it relates to individual rights and responsibilities, as well as the role of religion in modern society and the ways in which it can both unite and divide people. In addition, the training addressed the sensitive and often controversial topics of racism and discrimination, and the ways in which these forms of oppression and injustice can manifest in different forms and contexts. Participants learned about the EU's commitment to promoting human rights and equality, and the ways in which these values can be upheld and defended. Finally, the training examined the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on European society and other countries, and the ways in which this crisis has shaped global politics and relations. Participants also learned about various conspiracy theories that have emerged in relation to this conflict and other societal issues, and the importance of critical thinking in evaluating the validity of such theories.

Which methods and tools have been used ?

Given the vast amount of information that people are exposed to today through various sources, and the importance of informed and educated citizens in democratic societies, specific sessions were focused on providing media literacy and critical thinking skills. These interactive sessions offered practical techniques and exercises for developing young people's critical thinking abilities and helping them identify cognitive biases and fallacies. The participants noted that when young people have the critical thinking skills to recognize the stereotypes, biases, and underlying motivations of those who produce political and media discourse, they can develop their own strategies for combating false information and misinformation.

How cultural awarness is important in european context ?

The training was held in a welcoming environment that encouraged social interaction between organizations from various EU countries. Each organization and participant contributed to the project in their own unique ways. Throughout the training, participants shared their cultural and personal views and presented their cultures, but despite these differences, everyone came together in the shared values of European identity and the EU's core values. It was very useful for all participants to meet and exchange practices with people from other cultures who work with youth, and this helped to strengthen organizational and personal connections for future collaboration on EU youth projects. Cultural awareness is important in European societies for several reasons. First, it helps individuals to understand and respect the diversity of cultures within and between countries in Europe. This includes acknowledging and valuing the different histories, traditions, languages, and values of various cultural groups, as well as recognizing the role that culture plays in shaping people's identities and experiences. Second, cultural awareness can foster greater tolerance, inclusivity, and social cohesion within European societies. By understanding and respecting the cultural differences of others, individuals can more easily recognize and appreciate the commonalities that they share, and work together to build more cohesive and harmonious communities. Third, cultural awareness can also facilitate better communication and understanding among people from different cultural backgrounds. By being sensitive to cultural differences and being open to learning about other cultures, individuals can more effectively communicate and interact with others, leading to more positive and productive relationships. Overall, cultural awareness is an important aspect of life in European societies, as it helps to promote mutual respect, understanding, and harmony among people from diverse backgrounds.

How did it boost our skills and employability as a youth worker ?

According to Burak, a volunteer who participated in the training, the information provided was "highly beneficial and it is anticipated that it will be put to good use in their voluntary work with Fedactio and in their future job. Meetings were held to initiate projects related to this pressing topic, and it was reported that there was a significant improvement in the way of thinking and looking at things. It is also noted that this type of project is beneficial for every individual and it is believed that everyone should have the opportunity to receive information about critical thinking in order to develop themselves first as an individual and then as a citizen of the European society. The training also served as a platform for participants to exchange ideas and practices with other youth workers from various European countries, providing a broader perspective and new insights into the difficulties and opportunities faced by youth workers in different settings. This cultural exchange was considered as an invaluable component of the training, as it offered the opportunity to learn from the diverse experiences of peers and establish meaningful connections with colleagues from different cultural backgrounds. Overall, the European training course on critical thinking was deemed as a highly beneficial experience that aided in enhancing skills and developing professional network of youth workers. It is recommended for other youth workers who seek to improve their critical thinking abilities and build connections with fellow professionals.

Conclusion and recommendations

Young people often face marginalization and lack of voice. By designating 2022 as the European Year of Youth, the EU has recognized the important role that young people play in society and the sacrifices they have made during the pandemic. The EU should take action to support their well-being and development, by promoting the meaningful participation of young people in all aspects of public life, and involving civil society organizations to support and empower young people, especially in disadvantaged communities. Additionally, education and awareness campaigns that inspire young people to believe in their power to make a difference, can help to create a brighter future for young people and society as a whole. To achieve these goal, it is of utmost importance that civil society organizations and the European Union prioritize the fostering of critical thinking. It's a powerful tool that equips youth with the ability to evaluate information and arguments objectively, make informed decisions and take active and responsible roles in society. Moreover, fostering critical thinking also means empowering young people to identify and challenge any form of marginalization, discrimination, or misinformation they may encounter in their daily lives. This is especially important in today's digital era, where the abundance of information and misinformation can make it challenging to distinguish truth from lies.

In short, by promoting critical thinking the EU will not only help to achieve its core values and goals. but will also empower young people to become active and responsible citizens who can drive positive change within their communities.

Interview with Henri Goldman about the importance of living together in peace

In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, Fedactio and IDP interviewed "Politique" Editor-in-chief Henri Goldman, who talks about his family's experiences in Auschwitz during World War II.

Click here for the full video

Hello, Mr. Goldman! Could you introduce yourself in a few words and tell us a little bit about the tragedy that has affected your family? 

I was born here (Brussels) in 1947. So, I was born after all this. I don't know of the whole story we are going to talk about except what I have been told. But I lived it quite intensely through complicated family situations. I have to go back a generation. My parents are Polish Jews, born to families that have been there forever. They come from two cities, both about 50-80 km from Warsaw. At that time, there were about 3 million Jews in Poland. Between the two wars the Jews faced two types of difficulties. Firstly, socio-economic misery because the country was going through a crisis. We are after the crisis of '29, in a country that is not very prosperous. And then there's a tradition of anti-Semitism that becomes really unbearable with the rise of Polish nationalism which organizes boycotts: "Don't buy from the Jews." As the situation is difficult, they send children abroad. My parents, who don't know each other yet, come to Belgium as economic migrants, but also to flee anti-Semitism. Then comes the war. You know about Nazism and its racial laws, that Jews are persecuted in Germany. In the spring of 1942, the so-called Final Solution came into effect. There is one too many people on earth; we must not only discriminate against them, beat them, imprison them, but we must exterminate them. A decree of the occupier orders all Jews to show up and introduce themselves to the Dossins barracks in Mechelen to... go to Germany in a labour camp, although they are not really told why. What is important is that it only concerns foreign Jews at the time, so the occupier is going to get some kind of ambiguous collaboration with the Belgian Jews by telling them "you risk nothing at all, but you must help us". As in the Netherlands and France, national Jewish associations were set up. The arrest of my father arrived rather late, I do not know the details, he will be deported in February '44. As for my mother, she was deported in January '44, almost at the end of the war. When in 1942 the decision to deport foreign Jews was taken, she immediately contracted a white marriage to become Belgian. This is a procedure that many migrants used to have security of residence. Once she became Belgian, she joined the Resistance, and it was not until October 1943 that the deportation was to include Belgian Jews as well. She then went underground and was arrested by denunciation four months later. They both ended up in the Auschwitz camp where the train from Mechelen arrived. My father will be deported with his wife and the youngest of his three children and they arrive at the so-called ramp in Birkenau, the terminus station. There, people are sorted as they arrive; those who can still work as slaves enter the camp, and those who are considered useless immediately go to the gas chamber. That's what happened with my father's wife and their youngest child. The other two children were in hiding with Belgian families during this time. When my mother returned to the camp, she was a little woman, she was not even 1.5m tall, but she was vigorous. I learned a few years before her death that she had arrived pregnant at the Auschwitz camp, that she had given birth there, and with friends who worked in the infirmary they euthanized this little girl who was in full health to prevent her from being subjected to the medical experiments of Dr. Mengele, a war criminal. My father was later transferred to the Dachau camp. In a way it was fortunate because it was a pure labour camp, without gas chambers. He was liberated by the Americans, while my mother stayed all the way to the Auschwitz camp and a few days before the Soviet troops arrived began what was called the death marches. At that time there were about 100,000 people left in the Auschwitz camp and the Nazis took them with them in their retreat. It was in January in the middle of winter, it was freezing and this caravan of poor people came up to Germany. It took several months for them to run into French or American people who repatriated them. My parents met after the war. I was fortunate to have an extraordinarily alive mother, for whom life went on as did the fight against fascism. She pushed me to get involved in life and made me, I hope, a balanced and rather optimistic man.

Perhaps a brief word about who Henri Goldman is today, about your work and your commitments? 

This context has always made me a politically and socially committed person. Because of this family history, the hard core of my commitment revolves around the rejection of racism. More than that, there is also the recognition of cultural diversity. I am very happy to live in Brussels, which is a city where even today the majority of people are either foreigners or of foreign origin. It is an extraordinary richness not to have a culture of reference. And it is no coincidence that out of the 695 local councils that we have elected, there is not a single one from the far right. This is unique in the European landscape. When you look at what is happening in Flanders, France, the Netherlands, Germany, England, Italy and Spain, you see the emergence of mass parties everywhere. I think it's thanks to the "cosmopolitan" identity of Brussels that we don't have that. It shows that more cultural diversity leads to more democracy and openness. Besides that, I have a degree in architecture, but I've done six jobs in my life, around music, journalism, writing, page layout... (Mr. Goldman is currently editor-in-chief of the magazine "Politique".)

This Monday, 27 January, we commemorated the victims of the Holocaust with this year's focus on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz camp. Who do you think is responsible for what happened to the Jewish people? Is it solely the fault of the Nazi regime or is there a more collective responsibility?

There is a collective responsibility that is historical, and then there are much more specific political responsibilities. Jews are the only non-Christian minority that has existed for a long-time all-over Europe, from Portugal to Russia, from England to Bulgaria. And it is on the Jews that the need to express a difference has focused. For a long time Jews were locked into a very specific economic function. If Jews became usurers, it was because they were not allowed to own land at a time when society was living off the land. By forbidding them to own land, they were forced to have small commercial functions. And then when a bourgeoisie developed in Western Europe, they were pushed eastward. They lived through pogroms, professional prohibitions, numerus clausus at the university when they have started to be able to study, etc. Structurally in European society there is a need for a permanent scapegoat, and at a time when we have no Arabs, no blacks yet, it falls on the Jews. Now there are much more conjunctural events that have plunged Europe into war. The advent of Nazism is not unique, we see the arrival of autocratic nationalist regimes in many places. The question of why genocide took such a prominent place in this war is something very difficult to explain and understand. It doesn't make sense. It makes sense for a criminal authoritarian regime to turn an entire population into slaves, but it does not make sense to decide to liquidate them industrially. Other countries have experienced genocides, such as the Armenian genocide or the Tutsi genocide, which are the two other major genocides that have been recorded. It was done in a planned manner, but not in an industrial manner, as was the case with the Jews. That's what's quite unique. How can a people that is considered at the time to be one of the most the people of Goethe, Schiller, Karl Marx, Freud, Einstein, etc.... How can a people that is one of the most evolved in Europe at a certain point forget its culture to make this? It is not the least civilized people who are capable of the most barbaric crimes.

This year many leaders from the Muslim community participated in the Auschwitz commemorations. Do you think that dialogue between different groups can be a remedy against radical ideologies?

Muslims have been widely accused of being the vectors of a new anti-Semitism. It is important to show that this is not true and that they empathize with the suffering of the Jews. There are also fine initiatives in the other direction, such as the iftars and exhibitions organised by the Jewish Museum in Brussels, which are an extraordinary moment of sharing. There are fruitful elements. It is important to note that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are developing at the same time, and we must combat them together.

Today we can see that hate speech is on the rise in European societies. Why do you think there is so much hate in today's society? 

We're coming out of a period called the glorious thirty years (1945-1975). An exceptional period for Europe... even if it coincides with the golden age of colonialism. It is a period of growth, there is no unemployment, wages are rising steadily, public services are improving, pensions are also improving, the pie of the economy is growing so much that everyone, both bosses and workers, is earning more. And then all this will stop from the '75's onwards. For ten more years, we will pretend that everything is going well, that the situation will improve, and then we realise that it is no longer the case. Unemployment increases again, the social balance of power deteriorates and little by little people say "I am not sure that my children will live better than me. What can be done? To whom?" And then the old nationalism resurfaces and says it's other people's fault. We have to take care of our poor but we can't do it because all the poor people in the world are coming to invade us. Nationalism rises and revolves around refusing the other, the foreigner. The prosperity of capitalist societies is at a standstill. We realize that it no longer works, that we are no longer able to ensure a regular increase in the middle classes. There are new middle classes emerging in China or India, but the middle classes in Europe have collapsed. And on this basis, a discourse of exclusion has developed. The liberal economy no longer works and the left has not managed to impose another form of solidarity, so the extreme right is taking advantage of it. It is based on this old xenophobic background that exists in all societies where there is a very powerful national history.

Polarisation of society is very common today in our western societies, including in the countries of the European Union, and in the United States, which are said to be great democracies. In your opinion, is this a sign that democracy is in danger?

What we call polarization is an effect of the breakdown of solidarity. In order for it to take hold, you have to designate an otherness, and it always falls on populations of foreign origin, or in the United States on minorities. To say that black Americans or Hispanics are of foreign origin, yes, a very long time ago. But then all Americans are of foreign origin! It's all just a construct. In Europe this discourse has taken on new proportions with the new waves of migration.

Unfortunately we are still witnessing persecutions in 2020. All over the world people are worried about their ethnic, cultural, political, sexual and other backgrounds... Having made this diagnosis, what are the solutions envisaged? What is missing to ensure the respect of fundamental human rights? Are we condemned to see history repeat itself?

I think we are relatively doomed to give up the idea that history is linear and that it will always move towards more progress. This is what we have been discovering for the past few years, and the ecological crisis is not helping. The spiral of consumption and waste will make the Earth unviable. Human societies are going through a difficult time. If populists are getting stronger everywhere, it's because a scapegoat has been appointed. They say "eigen volk eerst", "our people first" and the others they could die. Éric Zemmour, who was asked in a French TV programme "what do you feel when young people die in the Mediterranean", has just said "I don't care at all, they took their risk. I'd rather they die than my own children". We are at that point when we don't really see how we're going to get out of it anymore. On the other hand, there is a lot of hope coming from the youth movements, the whole mobilization for the climate for example. It's a step forward... I think we need a profound cultural change to consider first of all that intangible goods, tenderness, love... are more valuable than material things. That said, we need at least enough food, clothing and shelter. I don't rely so much on the political world to initiate change, but more on the associative world. How do you convince dominant, powerful people to give up their privileges? It's difficult to convince them. In general, people who have privileges don't abandon them of their own free will. It is often necessary for less privileged people to snatch them away. That's how the whole history of human emancipation works. If certain African peoples had not fought for their independence, they would not have had it. If women had not fought for more equality, and it's not over, nothing would have changed, it would still be men who would decide everything. And if the workers hadn't fought for social rights, it wouldn't have been the capitalists who would have given them like that. We have to accept that society is an space of conflicts, that there are social, economic and cultural struggles. The dominated groups must take their destiny into their own hands. They must obviously do so in a way that does not lead to a reversal of domination. The history of human emancipation is not linear. There have been times when we moved forward and times when we moved backward.

What place do you give to intercultural dialogue in the resolution of the problems we discussed?

For me, the very existence of a multicultural city prevents a nationalist conception of things and forces one to be a little less self-centered. I have to be able to understand that this is important for a person who has another origin. That doesn't mean that they should remain locked in what they have received. But that this is their starting point and that if I want to make this person my equal, I must accept that this person's cultural baggage is as valuable as mine. The society I really dream of is a society where no one has to choose between being faithful to one's own baggage and making society all together.

Speaking of dream society. We were commemorating Martin Luther King’s Day on 20 January, what are your wishes, your dreams perhaps more precisely, for future generations? 

We have an incredible wealth that it is up to us to bring to life. It will evolve over time. No one knows for how long we will remain Turkish, Moroccan or Jewish. After how many generations it disappears or not. Then we get married to each other too, things happen. It is by remaining open that we can assume our destiny as the most cosmopolitan city in Europe according to all the statistics, and that we can be a small island of resistance to the rise of identity nationalism. This is what I can perhaps hope for the future.