EURO MUSLIMS FACE 'ISLAMOPHOBIA'
- EU REPORT: MUSLIMS FACE 'ISLAMOPHOBIA'
ATHENS, Greece - Muslims across Europe are confronting a rise in
"Islamophobia" ranging from violent attacks to discrimination in job
and housing markets, a wide-ranging European Union report indicated
The study, compiled by the European Monitoring Center on Racism and
Xenophobia, urged European authorities to strengthen policies on
integration. But it also noted that Muslims need to do more to counter
negative perceptions driven by terrorism and upheavals such as the
backlash to cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
The 117-page survey details the many divides between the EU mainstream
and the estimated 13 million Muslims - now at least 3.5 percent of the
25-nation bloc's population - and seeks to offer a street-level view
of the complexities blocking efforts to bridge the differences.
"The disadvantaged position of Muslim minorities, evidence of a rise
in Islamophobia and concern over processes of alienation and
radicalization have triggered an intense debate in the European
Union," said Beate Winkler, director of the Vienna-based group.
The report reinforces the growing urgency of tackling religious
tensions and suspicions in Europe.
During a trip to Turkey earlier this month, Pope Benedict XVI appealed
for greater understanding between Christianity and Islam and sought to
ease Muslim outrage over his remarks in September that cited a
medieval emperor speaking about violence and Muhammad's teachings.
Last week, British Prime Minister Tony Blair called tolerance one of
the "essential values" of his nation and denounced "hatemongers,
whatever their race, religion or creed."
The report cited hundreds of reported cases of violence or threats
against Muslims in the EU since 2004, including vandalism against
mosques and Islamic centers, abuse against women wearing Islamic
headscarves and attacks, such as a Somali family in Denmark assaulted
by a gang carrying baseball bats emblazoned with swastikas and racist
The report, however, noted that "data on religiously aggravated
incidents is collected on a limited scale." It noted that only Britain
publishes a hate-crime list that specifically identifies acts against
"Muslims feel that acceptance by society is increasingly premised on
'assimilation' and the assumption that they should lose their Muslim
identity," Winkler said. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, many
Muslims feel "they have been put under a general suspicion of terrorism."
Islamophobic incidents shot up 500 percent in Britain in the weeks
after the July 2005 bombings of London's transit system, but decreased
dramatically after authorities and religious leaders worked together
to ease tensions, Winkler said.
"The key word is 'respect,'" she said. "People need to feel respected
The report urged EU nations to develop more clear legal frameworks for
Muslim cultural and religious institutions, including ways to make
more public funds available to Islamic community groups and help train
The report also said Europe's Muslims are "often disproportionately
represented" in poor housing conditions, unemployment statistics and
in lower education levels.
ON THE NET
European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia: http://eumc.eu.int
WORLD VIEW NEWS SERVICE
To subscribe to this group, send an email to:
NEWS ARCHIVE IS OPEN TO PUBLIC VIEW