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International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism

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The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism – or Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l'Antisémitisme (LICRA) in French— was established in 1926, and is opposed to intolerance, xenophobia and exclusion.

History

The LICRA was created after Sholom Schwartzbard assassinated Symon Petliura on the 25th of May 1926 in the Latin Quarter. Schwartzbard viewed Petliura responsible for numerous pogroms in Ukraine.

In 1927, French journalist Bernard Lecache created "The League Against Pogroms", and launched a mediatic campaign in support for Schwartzbard. After his acquittal, the league evolved in LICA (Ligue internationale contre l'antisémitisme – or international league against anti-semitism). Sholom Schwartzbard, the anarchist who assassinated the Ukrainian nationalist leader Symon Petlura, was a prominent activist in this organization. Many influential personalities adhere to the league, such as Victor Basch, Léon Blum, Albert Einstein, Edouard Fleg, Maxime Gorki, Paul Langevin, Countess of Noailles, Georges Pioch, Séverine, André Spire.

In 1931, LICRA already counted 10000 subscribers all over France. It was a solid power during the battle between leagues in February 1934. From 1932, LICA evolved into LICRA, but the name was officially changed only in 1979 during the long (1968-1992) presidency of Jean Pierre-Bloch.

In September 1939, as the WW2 started, numerous LICRA subscribers are mobilised, and a lot of them were volunteers during all the war. In occupied France, the LICRA is dissolved by the Vichy government, and has to reform in clandestinity, to help the victims of anti-Jews laws, notably by hiding them away from Paris, by providing them with fake IDs, and by helping them escape to Switzerland, Spain and England.

In 1972, a law authorized the LICRA to stick with victims of racist acts during their court audience. LICRA received considerable media attention during the case of LICRA vs. Yahoo!, in which it brought charges against Yahoo! for selling Nazi memorabilia to people in France in violation of French law; law proposed, coined and used by and for the LICRA.

The LICRA keeps fighting neonazism and revisionist thesis. This was exposed when it supported the Klarsfeld couple, and during Klaus Barbie's trial in 1987.

In the last few years, the LICRA intensified its international actions, by opening sections abroad. There is some in Switzerland, in Belgium, in Luxembourg, in Germany, in Portugal, in Quebec and more recently in Congo Brazzaville and in Austria.

Since 1999, with the arrival of its new president Patrick Gaubert, the LICRA extended its area of action. It now treats society problems such as work discrimination, citizenship, disadvantaged young people.

Commissions

  • The Psychological Help Commission supports victims of racist or anti-semitic acts who find themselves overwhelmed.
  • The Juridical Commission examines and decides whether or not to sue racist speech or writing. It can also help victims by giving them juridic advice.
  • The Youth Commission was created after the 2002 events, in order to fulfill its lack of young subscribers. It carries out local and national actions to make young people more sensitive to racism and anti-semitism issues. This commission brings together subscribers aged 16 to 30, every second Sunday of the month.
  • The Memory, History and Humans Rights Commission, created in 1986, informs and trains all the LICRA members. Its prevention actions are:
    • historical information of the members,
    • expertise regarding racism or anti-semitism related books, photos and videos,
    • spread of historical knowledge to teachers and students.
  • The Sport Commission tries to keep sport as an integration tool. It leads prevention action towards violence in stadiums. It fights against communitarism, and against those who use sport as a means of recruitment and infiltration. In Europe, the LICRA represents France in the FARE network.
  • The Education Commission, led by Barbara Lefebvre and Alain Seksig, makes young people more aware of republican values.

Presidents

Objectives and resources

The LICRA's aim is to stay in permanent alertness concerning any kind of discrimination. It fights against everyday racism and the banalization of xenophobic acts. It helps the victims who are most of the time not aware of their rights. It pays attention to any racist speech in the media. It does not want in any case to alter the press's freedom of speech, but only to find and correct any hate or discrimination incitement. It also makes sure that any negationist document is removed from sale. Moreover, it sues websites that publish racist or anti-semite content, and warns the hosts about the risks their bring upon themselves. Finally, it attacks racist contents in some political speeches. The convictions that have already been made prove that these are crimes, not points of view.

The LICRA acts on the field thanks to its volunteers in every region. The actions programme is voted by 9 commissions (historical memory, juridical, education, cultural, sport, Europe, integration, citizenship, youth). Since 1932, the LICRA publishes a newspaper: "le droit de vivre" (the right to live), which is an essential aid to express LICRA's values and engagements. Given out to all the members, it is a great tool of internal and external communication. It allows to sum up LICRA's local, national and international actions. Depending on the actuality, many personalities (political, NGO, sport...) express themselves in its columns.

Honorary members

Joséphine Baker, Alain Bauer, François Bayrou, Harry Belafonte, Edouard Beneš, André Bergeron, Jean Pierre-Bloch, Léon Blum, Tamara Borten, Jean-Denis Bredin, Jacques Chaban-Delmas, Georges Charpak, Jacques Chirac, Comtesse de Noailles, Costa-Gavras, Bertrand Delanoe, Jacques Delors, Albert Einstein, Monseigneur Etchegaray, Laurent Fabius, Roger Fauroux, Jean Ferniot, Alain Finkielkraut, François de Fontette, René Frydman, Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, Marek Halter, Edouard Herriot, François Jacob, Lionel Jospin, Léon Jouhaux, Alain Juppé, Axel Kahn, Joseph Kessel, Beate Klarsfeld, Serge Klarsfeld, Bernard Kouchner, Jack Lang, Bernard Lecache, Joël Le Tac, François Léotard, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Léon Lévy, Enrico Macias, Thomas G. Masaryck, Albert Memmi, Gaston Monnerville, Abbé René de Naurois, Pierre Perret, Louis Edmond Pettiti, Gilberte Pierre-Brossolette, Samuel Pisar, Maurice Plantier, Alain Poher, Bertrand Poirot-Delpech, Henri Ravouna, Romain Rolland, A. et S. Schwartz-Bart, Philippe Seguin, Séverine, Bernard Stasi, Fodé Sylla, Bertrand Tavernier, Rita Thalmann, Gilbert Trigano, Etienne Trocme, Simone Veil, Maurice Weinberg, Elie Wiesel, Etienne Wolff, Fred Zeller

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