۵ تیر ۱۴۰۱ |۲۶ ذیقعدهٔ ۱۴۴۳ | Jun 26, 2022
There's a social pandemic poisoning Europe: hatred of Muslims

If anti-Muslim prejudice is not targeted, steps to counter racism in Europe in the wake of BLM protests will be meaningless.

Hawzah News Agency - If anti-Muslim prejudice is not targeted, steps to counter racism in Europe in the wake of BLM protests will be meaningless.

Rarely does the EU act so swiftly. Less than four months since the killing of George Floyd in police custody and the Black Lives Matter campaign that spilled into Europe and galvanised continent-wide protests, the EU is appointing its first ever anti-racism coordinator. This brilliant idea will make little sense, however, if anti-Muslim hatred is not part of their portfolio. Because instead of building a “truly anti-racist union”, as the president of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, would wish, we have so far built an anti-Muslim one.

Prejudice against Muslims exists in every corner of Europe. Not only do we collectively devalue and discriminate against Europeans who follow Islam, but the incidence of violence against Muslims is increasing.

We have known since the refugee and migration crisis of 2015 and the jihadist terrorist attacks in France, Spain and Germany that Muslims suffer from an exceptionally bad reputation in our societies. In 2019, research conducted for the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Religion Monitor yet again confirmed widespread mistrust towards Muslims across Europe. In Germany and Switzerland, every second respondent said they perceived Islam as a threat. In the UK, two in five share this perception. In Spain and France, about 60% think Islam is incompatible with the “west”. In Austria, one in three doesn’t want to have Muslim neighbors.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) confirms these findings in its most recent paper on the rise and meaning of hate crimes against Muslims. So does Europe’s police coordinating body Europol: in 2019, far-right terrorism soared.

What is more surprising is how quickly anti-Muslim racism has turned violent.

In its most recent report the Council of Europe warns that “Europe is facing a shocking reality: anti-Muslim and other racist hate crimes are increasing at an alarming rate”. The OSCE also corroborates these findings in its own paper on hate crimes against Muslims.

If it were not so distressing it would be fascinating. From Spain to Bulgaria and from Finland to France, people feel prejudice against Muslims no matter the size of the country’s economy, its Muslim community, the religious, racial or ethnic social makeup, the kind of historical relations with the south and the Muslim world, or even the refugee policy after 2015.

Take two very different European countries: Germany and Poland. The German Muslim community (4.7 million people or 5.7% of the population) is more than 200 times larger than Poland’s (about 20,000 or 0.01%). German GDP is seven times larger, and the country is much more religiously diverse. Perhaps the best indicator to showcase differences is the policy towards Syrian refugees that the two countries adopted in 2015. Germany’s Willkommenskultur stood in stark contrast to Poland’s staunch refusal to take any.

And yet roughly the same percentage of Germans and Poles think unfavorably about Muslims.

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