Tuesday

23rd Jul 2019

Opinion

Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia

  • A female Muslim swimming teacher (Photo: reuters)

Public discourses across Europe hammering that Muslims are a problem are currently justifying the adoption of policies, legislation and practices that are putting our core democratic and fundamental rights principles at risk.

We shouldn't fall into the trap of scapegoating Muslims and migrants and blaming them for the EU's crisis. This will further divide us instead of enabling us to live together in a safe society.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation measures recently adopted in some EU countries have already led to serious human rights violations, including racial profiling by law enforcement authorities, police abuses during raids and the use of administrative restrictions on the basis of vague and discriminatory criteria.

In the United Kingdom for instance, surveillance cameras are placed in so-called 'Muslim areas' and social workers are required to denounce 'radical' behaviour, often defined by strict observance and rarely linked to any criminal offence.

As a result, many innocent Muslims are targeted mainly on the basis of their religious practice, with no evidence pointing to their involvement in any criminal act.

These laws and policies ultimately also have a negative impact on the rights of all Europeans, whether it is restricting freedom of expression, increasing surveillance or targeting human rights defenders.

As a progressive society, we shouldn't accept these as collateral damages in the name of security.

They are fuelling a generalised suspicion and marginalisation of Muslims following terrorist attacks and the current migration context in Europe.

As are stigmatising and racist discourses, representing Muslims as the "enemy from within" who needs to be controlled and policed, and as threats to "European values" and the "European way of life", which in practice actually only mean that diversity is not welcome in Europe.

Instigating fear and suspicion in the European population's hearts and minds will only lead to further insecurity and violence, instead of creating resilient and trustful communities that can work together for a better future for all.

Indeed, instead of being able to fully participate in European society, Muslim people's lives are dictated by a sense of insecurity, injustice and fear of retaliation.

In the words of Amar, subjected to a house search in France in 2015: "It feels like if you display your religion, if you are bearded or wear a religious symbol or dress or if you pray in a particular mosque you can be considered to be "radical" and thus targeted. If you try not to display your religion too much, then they think you are concealing something."

Even children are being criminalised, resulting in traumatic experiences for them. For example, a five-year old girl in France was suspected of fasting and brought to hospital by eight armed policemen, although her parents and doctors denied that she was fasting.

Now the European Parliament, instead of putting energy into developing long-term solutions to address the current consequences of the EU's socio-economic crisis, has gone one step further with the establishment of a closed-door special committee on terrorism.

Discussions in this committee further illustrate a tendency to reiterate racist connotations between terrorism and Europe's Muslim population.

Don't ignore far-right

There is a strong trend in European and national policies and practices to racially define terrorism and radicalisation by over-focusing on Muslim populations, whilst completely ignoring far-right terrorism and radicalisation for instance.

However, this threat is real and has already killed in Europe: far-right attacks targeting Muslims and progressive forces have led to several deaths and uncovered plots, including in France and the United Kingdom.

The 'escalator' approach whereby a conservative religious practice would lead to support for violent terrorism is bound to target innocent Muslim individuals and families, fuel suspicion towards any practising Muslims, and to generate violent backlash from the mainstream population. In addition, discriminatory measures are fuelling a sense of insecurity, injustice and defiance toward authorities, making them counter-productive in the long term.

EU decision makers need to get serious about tackling Islamophobia, which has become a major society issue impacting all of us.

They should focus on treating Muslims as human beings with equal rights who are concerned, just like everyone else, about having a decent life and ensuring they and their families are safe, instead of trying to score political points ahead of the EU elections by pandering to racism.

Julie Pascoet is senior advocacy officer at the European Network Against Racism

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

Merkel calls for Muslim veil ban

German chancellor endorses partial ban on the full-face Muslim veil amid tougher talk on migrants to rally the support of Christian Democrats ahead of a tough election next year.

Poland 'changing for the worse' for Muslims and refugees

Chechen refugees have been coming to Poland for decades. Tatar Muslims have lived there for centuries. But with the new government trying to whip up fear of foreigners, "things are changing for the worse”.

Finland shamed on racism in EU study

A survey of 12 EU states ranks Finland as the place where people of African descent experience the most abuse, followed by Luxembourg and Ireland.

News in Brief

  1. UK foreign office minister quits ahead of Johnson as PM
  2. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  3. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack
  4. Ukrainian president's party tops parliament election
  5. EU interior ministers to meet in Paris on migration
  6. Schinas nominated as Greek commissioner
  7. Sea-Watch captain hopes for change in EU migrant rules
  8. Russia willing to join EU payment scheme on Iran deal

Six takeaways on digital disinformation at EU elections

For example, Germany's primetime TV news reported that 47 percent of political social media discussions were related to the extreme-right AfD party, when in fact this was the case only for Twitter - used by only four percent of Germans.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  2. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  3. Abortion Wars
  4. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  5. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  6. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  7. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law
  8. Timmermans trolls 'idiot' Brexit negotiators

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us