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1st Mar 2024

Anti-Muslim hatred ignored by EU, activists say

  • Anti-Muslim hate speech and violence "swiftly proliferating" in Europe, activists said (Photo: Michael Coghlan)
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The EU has a problem with anti-Muslim hatred and its institutions are doing little to help, some 41 civil society groups have said.

The EU and France opposed creating an International Day to Combat Islamophobia at the UN in March in a sign of the times, the activists said in their joint statement on Tuesday (14 June).

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The French EU presidency has, over the past six months, failed "to seriously address the widespread structural and institutional discriminations against Muslim minorities in Europe" in its EU policies, they said.

Recent EU communiques on the issue gave "the impression that Islamophobia whether it be structural or not, doesn't even exist", they said.

And the EU Commission has failed to appoint a new coordinator on anti-Muslim hatred since July last year in what appeared to be a pattern of behaviour, they added.

But at the same time, "anti-Muslim violence, hate speech, discrimination and marginalisation" were "swiftly proliferating in Europe where Muslims (or those perceived as such) are now being identified as a primary target by political parties and violent far-right movements alike," they warned.

The diverse signatories from 13 EU countries, the UK, and Turkey, included the European Network against Racism in Belgium, SOS Racisme from Denmark, and the Northern Ireland Council for Racial Equality.

The French presidency has previously denied downgrading Muslim concerns in its EU policies, for instance on protection of minorities and on counter-radicalisation.

But in one example in March, according to diplomatic sources, EU countries dropped references to the importance of the coordinator on anti-Muslim hatred after Poland said if that was to be in the text, then it wanted a special coordinator on "Christianophobia" in Europe as well.

At the same time, French policies paid more attention to combatting antisemitism and the EU Commission has had a coordinator in that role in place since 2015, giving the impression of a "hierarchy" of EU concern, the 41 civil groups pointed out.

When asked about the anti-Islamophobia coordinator vacancy in February, the EU Commission said: "As the previous anti-Muslim hatred coordinator ended his assignment, the Commission is currently examining the modalities for assigning this function".

"Awaiting the outcome of this examination, the tasks of the Coordinator continue to be carried out within DG [department of] Justice and Consumers," it added.

It declined to say how much it had spent on the two offices (against Islamophobia and antisemitism) compared to each other in the past seven years.

An EUobserver freedom of information request on the question was also met with obfuscation.

"Both the fight against anti-Muslim hatred and antisemitism are important issues for us," the commission said in February.

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