EUMC Media Release
Vienna, 18 December 2006
The report “Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia”, published by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) today, presents available data on discrimination affecting Muslims in employment, education and housing. Manifestations of Islamophobia range from verbal threats through to physical attacks on people and property. The report stresses that the extent and nature of discrimination and Islamophobic incidents against European Muslims remain under-documented and under-reported. The EUMC report recommends therefore that Member States improve the reporting of incidents and implement measures to counter discrimination and racism more effectively. Discrimination is illegal and could undermine Muslims’ sense of belonging in the EU.
“This report presents available data showing the extent of the discrimination being suffered by European Muslims,” said Beate Winkler, Director of the EUMC. “It underlines their vulnerability to discrimination and demonstrates that greater efforts need to be made to ensure that all European Muslims enjoy the right to equal treatment and the same quality of life as other Europeans. The report makes it clear that Muslims, along with other migrant and minority groups, frequently suffer different forms of discrimination which reduce their employment opportunities, and affect their educational achievement. This can give rise to hopelessness, and could undermine Muslims’ sense of belonging in the EU.”
The report gives examples of Islamophobic acts, ranging from verbal abuse to physical attacks and arson. “Such behaviour is illegal. Firm political leadership is needed to ensure equal treatment of all Europeans, whatever their background,” said Beate Winkler.
The report highlights that only one Member State - the United Kingdom - publishes criminal justice data which specifically identify Muslims as victims of hate crime incidents.
Anastasia Crickley, Chair of the EUMC Management Board, noted that yet again it had proved difficult to measure the precise nature of the discrimination suffered by European Muslims because of poor or missing official data: “The work of the EUMC in helping governments provide effective policies in the area of discrimination and xenophobia depends on knowing what problems we face. The failure of many Member Stats to collect effective data means that it is very difficult to develop workable policies to counter racism.”
The EUMC lists many examples of good practice by national or local governments, NGOs and others, drawn from several Member States. The report, however, proposes a number of further practical steps to be taken. The EUMC finds that improving educational achievement, granting equal treatment in employment, ensuring equal access to housing, and encouraging participation in public life are further key issues to be tackled, particularly at the local and regional level. The EUMC calls on all Member States to enforce the EU Anti-Discrimination Directives, and to ensure that the Equality Bodies which have been set up in each Member State are adequately resourced.
The report presents an overview of the situation of Muslims in the 25 EU Member States and follows EUMC publications on the situation of Jews, Roma and other groups in the EU. It presents available research and analyses statistical data. It shows that Muslims, as a group, are over-represented in low-paying sectors of the economy. Their educational achievement, in general, falls below average and their unemployment rates are higher than average. They are often disproportionately represented in areas with poorer housing conditions.
The EUMC is publishing a further study on “Perceptions of Discrimination and Islamophobia” at the same time. This study is based on in-depth interviews with members of Muslim organisations and Muslim youth groups in ten EU Member States. The interviews present a snapshot of the opinions, feelings, fears, frustrations, and also the hopes for the future shared by many Muslims in the EU.
“Integration is a two-way process. Many European Muslims acknowledge that they need to do more to engage with wider society. At the same time Europe’s political leaders must make a stronger effort to promote meaningful intercultural dialogue and tackle racism, discrimination and marginalisation more effectively,” said Beate Winkler. “Discrimination and racism are illegal. The key challenge is to strengthen cohesion in European societies. This means respecting diversity, upholding fundamental rights and guaranteeing equal opportunities for all of us.”
“Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia” and “Perceptions of Discrimination and Islamophobia” can be downloaded at http://eumc.europa.eu/
from 18 December 2006 noon.
Key findings and conclusions
- Regardless of their ethnic background and/or approach to religion, many European Muslims are facing discrimination in employment, education and housing.
- Discrimination against Muslims can be attributed to Islamophobic attitudes as well as to racist and xenophobic resentment, as these elements are often intertwined. Hostility against Muslims must therefore be seen in the more general context of xenophobia and racism towards migrants and minorities.
- It is evident that Muslims are experiencing Islamophobic acts, ranging from verbal threats through to physical attacks, even though data on religiously aggravated incidents is collected on a limited scale.
- The available data on victims of discrimination show that European Muslims are often disproportionately represented in areas with poorer housing conditions, while their educational achievement falls below average and their unemployment rates are higher than average. Muslims are often employed in jobs that require lower qualifications. As a group they are over-represented in low-paying sectors of the economy.
- Many European Muslims, particularly young people, face barriers to their social advancement. This could give rise to a feeling of hopelessness and social exclusion.
- Racism, discrimination and social marginalisation are serious threats to integration and community cohesion.