PARIS, April 4, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 1,000 people gathered today in central Paris for a pathbreaking day-long conference, initiated by AJC Europe, to discuss the threats posed by radical Islam and extremist political parties to the values that undergird European democracies. The conference took place at the Dejazet Theater, on the Place de la Republique, near the sites of deadly ISIS attacks in Paris last January and November.
In opening remarks, AJC Europe Director Simone Rodan-Benzaquen commemorated the numerous victims in France and Belgium of jihadist terrorism, and emphasized that the goal of the conference is to wake up to the reality of the threats and mobilize to confront and defeat them. "We are the majority, and we must win this battle," said Rodan-Benzaquen.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls delivered impassioned remarks at the closing session. "I thank AJC and all its partners for having created this Wake-Up Call conference," said Valls. "We have to give a very strong political answer. We all have to confront our societal problems and steadfastly reaffirm our values. I am convinced of the necessity of your 'wake-up call.'"
Conference speakers also included a range of leading European political, civil society, cultural, and religious figures. Among them were: former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who is dean of the Paris School International Affairs at Sciences Po; Mia Doormaert, diplomatic editor for De Standard (Belgium); Maajid Nawaz, founding chairman of the Quilliam Foundation; and Bruno LeMaire, former French minster and Member of Parliament. AJC Brussels-based Transatlantic Institute Director Daniel Schwammenthal and AJC Berlin Director Deidre Berger also addressed the gathering.
Throughout the day, speakers and comments from the large and diverse audience warned of the rise of Islamist radicalism, as well as the extreme right-wing reaction it has triggered in France and several other European countries.
"The Wake-Up Call conference is a timely, courageous, and laudable initiative of AJC Europe," said AJC Chief Executive Officer David Harris, who arrived in Paris this morning from New York to attend the conference. "I applaud our AJC colleagues for undertaking this impressive effort."
AJC Europe co-organized the Wake-Up Call conference with the Jean Jaurès Foundation, the Foundation for Political Innovation, the French Association for Victims of Terrorism, the Lab'Afev and the Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies; in partnership with The Huffington Post France and Le Figaro; and with the support of Facebook and Orange.
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SOURCE American Jewish Committee