(Strasbourg) “Xenophobic populism continues to make its mark on the contemporary political climate in Europe. It fuels an anti-immigrant rhetoric, which often results in racist hate speech, breaking taboos and inciting further expressions of hatred. This banalisation stands in sharp contrast to previously existing norms of public discourse and is of serious concern”. This is according to the annual report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI – a body of the Council of Europe) released today, which gives a global picture of the situation. A matter of great concern is “the agenda of populist politicians, who aim at dividing societies along national, ethnic or religious boundaries”. “The ‘us’ and ‘them’ ideology”, the report reads, “threatens inclusive societies and a tolerance-based principle that underpins Europe’s democratic societies”. Such views today are observed “not only among fringe politicians”, but also “within mainstream political parties and national governments”. Europe, the report states, “is now facing growing opposition to the previously generally accepted principle of multi-culturalism as a positive and desirable aspect for our societies”. Migrants and minorities are seen as “scapegoats” in a context of “growing public anxiety about economic, geopolitical and technological changes”. In this scenario, according to the ECRI, there is a lack of “prompt and clear counter-speech”.