| ||The European Network Against Racism has published its report on ‘Racism in Europe’, which covers the period between January 2009 and March 2010. Its report deals with the many faces of racism and discrimination in Europe at both legislative and local level, from policy to practice. It has been compiled using grassroots data collected by a large network of NGOs. |
The executive summary states that across the EU, “ethnic and religious minorities continue to face discrimination and exclusion. Manifestations of racism and racial discrimination are reported across the EU in various sectors, namely: employment; housing; education; health; policing; racist violence and crime; access to goods and services; the media.”
“To different degrees, across different countries, Roma, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, Muslims and Jews continued to be the groups most widely susceptible to discrimination and racism.”
Below are some of the key findings contained within the report in relation to Muslim communities. You can read the report in full here.
“Islamophobia is often encouraged by populist political discourse, which was often keen to associate Islam with terrorism and security concerns, as well as incompatible sets of values. Muslims were specifically mentioned as susceptible to discrimination in reports from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenie and the United Kingdom.”
Section three of the report details the discrimination faced by minorities across a wide range of areas and spheres of life, including employment; housing; education; health; policing; racist violence and crime; access to goods and services; and the media. The preamble to each of these respective areas highlights three particular things to note: the concern on inadequate data collection regarding discrimination, which “makes benchmarking any progress more difficult”; the “low level of awareness of relevant legal provisions and remedies” in relation to discrimination; and, third, the inter-relation and impact of discrimination across various sectors: “For instance, discrimination in employment leads to fewer opportunities and choices in housing and therefore segregation, which in turn impacts children’s access to quality education and healthcare. This consequently, supports the inter-generational transmission of exclusion. Moreover, there is also a strong inter-relation between discrimination and poverty and social exclusion. Therefore, a holistic and mainstreamed approach to addressing discrimination is necessary.”
Compare this to the simplistic approach taken by the Prime Minister who, in his speech to the Munich Security Conference, chose to blame multiculturalism and a weak affiliation by the Muslim community to ‘British values’ for segregation in some parts of Britain.
The ENAR report’s section on racist crimes and violence further notes that while “racist violence is reported to be on the rise in an ever-growing number of EU Member States”, racist violence and crime “remain under-reported, under-recorded and under-prosecuted.”
Of those racist crimes that are reported, the report worryingly states “reluctance by authorities to address the issue seriously and report little effort to combat hate crime. This is manifested in the reluctance or refusal by police services to take cases of racist violence seriously or to identify racist motivations for crime.”
The ENAR report then highlights the ‘intensification’ of ethnic profiling across Europe (including in the UK) and refers to a conclusion by the OSI (Open Society Justice Initiative), stating that ethnic profiling is frequently “more of a public relations tool than a reasoned response to crime and terrorism” – an assertion supported by data published by the Home Office last October which showed that of the 101,248 searches carried out under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, not one person was arrested for terrorism-related offences.
Page 21 covers discrimination in the media against minorities, “most notably through terminology and associations, and the use of the media by right wing parties.”
On how the media portrayed Muslim minorities: “... prejudice towards Muslims are often reinforced through news which links Islam to insecurity, fundamentalism and terrorism.”
At the same time, the report finds that the opinions of ethnic minorities are “rarely sought” on issues which affect or impact them.
Section four of the report highlights the political and legal context surrounding issues of discrimination – most notably, the fight against terrorism. It states: “The fight against terrorism has been used across the EU to justify measures and discourse that were often discriminatory and racist, most notably regarding Muslim communities.”
“Indeed, the fight against terrorism has overlapped with ethnic and religious profiling, while there has been increased confusion between Islamism and terrorism.”
“Moreover, counter-terrorism has been used to justify the adoption of legislative measures likely to restrict individual rights to disproportionately affect ethnic and religious minorities.”
The report details a wide range of recommendations for EU Member States, including:
“Develop data collection mechanisms on European and national levels in order to ensure that the situation of ethnic and religious minorities is duly studied and analysed.”
“Adopt national action plans or strategies on racism, which are adequately funded and supported, based on the political will to achieve real change and implemented through a partnership approach.”
“Actively promote the reporting of discriminatory incidents through awareness raising and ensure that the procedures [are] transparent and accessible.”
“Ensure that counter terrorism efforts do not undermine prospects of integration and social cohesion. Communities should be engaged as actors towards their own security and not be scapegoated.”
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