Thursday

9th Feb 2023

Commission: Most Muslims not a threat to Europe

  • 'There is no need to put a whole community in a position of being accused of being a danger to the rest of society,' the Commission vice-president said. (Photo: Dave Collier)

The EU Commission warned on Thursday (1 October) that the “age-old monster” of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are on the rise in Europe amid the refugee crisis and vowed to fight them, albeit with a limited legal arsenal.

Frans Timmermans, Commission Vice President responsible for rule of law, said that because of the influx of migrants, it is “no surprise” that there are fears of terrorism and fear of the new in European societies.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • VP Timmermans said Europeans tend to blame others in times of crisis (Photo: European Commission)

He added that it is the responsibility of the politicians is to “put that into perspective,” and stop singling out whole communities as a threat.

“The overwhelming majority of Muslim communities in Europe are absolutely not a threat, but render our societies stronger than we were before,” he told press before the start of a gathering of religious leaders, civil society and other stakeholders on the issue, called Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights.

“We have a responsibility to dismantle that fear, and there is no need to put a whole community in a position of being accused of being a danger to the rest of society,” he added.

The Dutch Commissioner said Islamophobia is new in European societies, but it is related to anti-Semitism, as they have similar consequences of hatred and discrimination.

“We Europeans, whenever we are in trouble, we have a tendency to look for other people to blame,” Timmermans said, adding that anti-Semitism is, “an age-old monster come up again in Europe” in last few years.

An Eurobarometer survey showed that Muslims are least accepted in European societies among religious groups, with only 61 percent of respondents saying they would be fully comfortable with a colleague at work being Muslim.

Only 43 percent said they would be fully comfortable if their adult children had a relationship with a Muslim person.

The refugee crisis is clearly fuelling fears, with the German Ministry of Interior recording as many as 202 attacks on housing for asylum-seekers in the first half of 2015 alone.

A survey by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency on Wednesday suggested rising anti-Semitism in Europe, as 73 percent of respondents felt that online anti-Semitism has worsened over the last five years.

But there is little the Commission can do to effectively address this issue.

Vera Jourova, EU commissioner for Justice, told press that only 13 member states had translated into national law the EU’s framework decision to penalise hate speech, public incitement and hate crimes that have racist or xenophobic motivation.

Hate crimes remain under-reported, and she stressed that trust in authorities must be improved.

Jourova said she will meet on Friday with IT companies to discuss how to tackle hate speech, which technically means taking down hate speech sites and sending out counter-narratives.

“We are on thin ice, there is a thin line between freedom of expression and combatting hate speech,” she said, adding that Friday’s meeting will lead to a series of discussions with IT companies.

On combatting radicalisation, a conference is scheduled to take place with the Luxembourgish presidency on the 19 October, focusing on radicalisation in prisons and IT platforms.

Jourova reminded that rules on victim’s rights will have to be transposed by member states into national legislation by this November, which will strengthen the victim’s assistance and protection.

An EU rule about race equality should also help combat discrimination in employment, social protection, health care, education and housing, the Commission said.

The Commission is also in talks to update the directive on media services that says that internet service providers have to remove content in case of incitement to hatred, but the process is too slow.

France tries to defuse burkini row

The interior minister warns against "stigmatisation" of Muslims after a woman was fined for wearing a scarf and leggings on a beach.

Polish backpedal on windfarms put EU funds at risk

Draft legislation in Poland aimed at relaxing some of Europe's strictest laws surrounding onshore wind-turbines has been derailed by a surprise last minute amendment, which could put Poland back on a collision course with the EU.

Opinion

Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters

The ECHR ruled that Russia was in "effective control" of separatist regions of Eastern Ukraine from 11 May 2014. In doing so, the court has formally acknowledged the inter-state character of the conflict and Russia's culpability for human rights abuses.

Latest News

  1. EU leaders attempt to hash out response to US green subsidies
  2. Russian diplomats in EU: unpaid wages, low morale
  3. Eight EU states press for more Turkey-style migrant swap deals
  4. EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid
  5. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  6. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  7. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  8. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us