Tuesday

22nd Aug 2017

Opinion

Anti-Muslim violence: A wakeup call for European governments

A police check of a Muslim woman wearing the full-face veil recently sparked riots in a Paris suburb, and has reignited a debate about the controversial ban of full-face veils in public spaces from 2011.

However, there is more at stake in such community uprisings than mere opposition to the ban; the riots should also be seen against the background of the rising violence against Muslims in Europe.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 'Muslim women are increasingly the victims of violence' (Photo: PBS)

Several violent attacks against Muslim women preceded the riots in France. One of the most severe incidents occurred on 13 June, when two men physically abused a 21 year-old pregnant woman.

Muslim women are increasingly the victims of violence.

In France in 2012, 85 percent of anti-Muslim reported incidents targeted women, and other countries demonstrate similar figures. The UK experienced a significant increase in anti-Muslim violence after the Woolwich killing, and the NGO Tell Mama recorded 12 incidents per week on average between March 2012 and March 2013. Most of these incidents concerned Muslim women.

The sharp rise in anti-Muslim attacks raises the question of responsibility. Who is to blame for the rise in anti-Muslim violence? Ultimately, individuals are to blame for their actions, but there is also a need to look critically at social and political influences.

There is a tendency to view hostility and violence towards Muslims as normal and acceptable. Prejudice against Muslims does not always carry the same social stigma as prejudice against other ethnic and religious groups.

In France and elsewhere in Europe, anti-Muslim attacks are too often met with political leaders’ and representatives’ silence rather than strong political will to protect basic human rights.

When political leaders turn a blind eye to attacks or refrain from publicly condemning violence, individual perpetrators are more likely to feel that they are ‘right’ and can act with a sense of impunity.

In France, the ban on the full-face veil makes the situation especially vulnerable for Muslims, since the ban is easily exploited as a justification for violence and abusive behavior. There needs to be stronger and clearer messages from leaders denouncing arbitrary use of the law.

Having a law against the full-face veil is one thing; misusing it, or seeing it misused repeatedly without taking action is another matter. Beyond the issue of the veil, politicians have a responsibility to speak out against violence, and they must also ensure that all individuals are adequately protected.

A first step to effectively tackle violence against Muslims would be to officially recognise Islamophobia as a specific form of racism. Islamophobia refers to the discrimination faced by individuals because of their real or perceived Muslim affiliation, and it results from a process of social construction of a group which is assigned specific racial features and stereotypes.

Greater recognition of Islamophobia in Europe would allow for the development of more focused and comprehensive strategies on EU, national, and local levels to improve the situation for Muslim communities.

There is also a need to address discrimination and violence against Muslim women in particular. Coalitions between different stakeholders need to be further encouraged in order to combat this extreme form of gender-biased violence.

A cohesive and resilient Europe that benefits all cannot be achieved so long as violence against Muslims is not seriously addressed. The riots in Paris have ended, but their underlying causes are likely to produce more conflict sooner or later.

In order to prevent such conflict in the future, governments urgently need to take action against Islamophobic violence.

Marwan Muhammad is spokesman for Collectif contre l'Islamophobie en France (CCIF); Elsa Ray is Project manager at CCIF for a pan-European programme to counter Islamophobia in Europe; Michael Privot is Director of European Network Against Racism (ENAR).

EU leaders dodge Islamic veil ban issue

EU leaders have declined to comment on moves to ban Islamic veils in some member states saying that the controversial issue is one for national governments alone to handle.

EU needs lasting solution to refugee crisis

If we continue with the failed approach of the last two years then this could become a systemic crisis that threatens the EU itself, writes Gianni Pittella.

Column / Brexit Briefing

The return of the chlorinated chicken

Britain has only just started on the path towards a post-Brexit trade deal with the US, but you can already see the same all-too-familiar disagreements.

Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis

If you were to judge events purely on the US media's headlines, you would be forgiven for wondering if the Polish government had anything to do with its recent controversial judicial reforms.

News in Brief

  1. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  2. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  3. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  4. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week
  5. Macedonia sacks top prosecutor over wiretap scandal
  6. ECB concerned stronger euro could derail economic recovery
  7. Mixed Irish reactions to post-Brexit border proposal
  8. European Union returns to 2 percent growth

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference