Muslims in Europe face growing hostility, Council of Europe report finds

Hostility toward Muslims is growing throughout Europe and Islam is perceived as a major threat by many Europeans, according to a new report by a high-level body within the Council of Europe.

The report also suggested ways to prevent discrimination against Muslims, calling on European countries to accept that a person can be a “hyphenated European” – for instance a “Turkish-German” – just like one can be an “African-American”.

Chaired by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, the Group of Eminent Persons’ report on intolerance and discrimination in Europe drew attention to the “rising intolerance toward immigrants and Muslims throughout Europe”.

“There is a growing hostility to Muslims throughout Europe,” said the report, titled Living Together: Combining Diversity and Freedom in 21st Century Europe.

“Islam is perceived as a major threat to Europe by many Europeans because they feel that the minority is growing and that Islam is incompatible with modern European life,” the report said. “Because increased immigration of Muslims to Europe in recent decades has resulted in more ‘visible’ Muslim communities and coincided with the growth of political Islam, many Europeans have acquired the conviction that Islam per se is radical, militant and incompatible with European values, and that Muslim immigrants and their descendants therefore cannot be integrated into European societies in the way that earlier waves of migrants have been.”

The report described the discrimination against Muslims in Europe as “a serious human-rights problem”, stressing that such prejudices are “combined with racist attitudes” directed against people originating from Turkey, Arab countries and South Asia.

“Muslims with this background are discriminated [against] in the labor market and the education system in a number of European countries. There are reports showing that they tend to be targeted by police in repeated identity controls and intrusive searches,” the report said.

Hürriyet Daily News, 10 May 2011

Download the report here