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PACE report warns of rising Islamophobia in Europe

PACE report warns of rising Islamophobia in Europe

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday June 22 2010

  The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has warned that in many of the Council of Europe’s forty-seven member states, ‘Muslims feel socially excluded, stigmatised and discriminated against; they become victims of stereotypes, social marginalisation and political extremism because of their different religious and cultural traditions.’

PACE’s report titled ‘Islam, Islamism and Islamophobia in Europe’ published last month notes that ‘the media play an important role in disseminating the image of Islam’, adding:

‘…journalists who cover the Muslim world often know very little about Islam and focus in particular on radical Islam. Political extremism is sometimes pursued in the name of Islam and media reports about non-democratic and violent regimes confuse their political action with Islam. Thus, the media may contribute to a distorted image of Islam which is often looked upon as extremist, terrorist or fundamental rather than a peaceful religion. Therefore, the image of Islam is deteriorating and fear of Muslims is growing in Europe.’

The report also notes the rise of right-wing sentiments across Europe:

‘In many European countries, far right-wing parties have changed their traditional hostile campaign against immigration and foreigners and rather exploit public fear of Islam. Their political campaigns encourage anti-Muslim sentiments and the amalgamation of Muslims with religious extremists. They advocate the fear of Europe being swamped by Muslims. Political parties, such as the French National Front, the Dutch Party for Freedom, the Belgian Vlaams Belang or the Swiss People’s Party have been very successful in running campaigns against Islam and largely contributed to the stigmatisation of Muslims. The Swiss People’s Party supported a federal popular initiative aimed at adopting through referendum a ban on the construction of minarets and backed it with a xenophobic campaign. The Dutch Party for Freedom propagated the ban of the Koran, comparing the religious text of Islam to Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Their campaigns amalgamated Islam and Islamism and regard all Muslims as Islamists. Through simplifications and negative stereotypes, these parties conveyed a distorted image of Islam.’

The report further notes:

‘The Swiss [minaret] ban was clearly was clearly influenced by a distorted image of Islam and was directed against Islamists and their practices. The decision to ban the construction of new minarets will not be an effective measure against Islamic extremism. It may well have the opposite effect.’

PACE calls on Switzerland to ‘enact a moratorium on, and to repeal as soon as possible, its general prohibition on the construction of minarets for mosques, which discriminates Muslim communities under Articles 9 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.’

The PACE report emphasises a need for greater inter-religious dialogue supported by member states, in order to raise awareness about the common origins and values of the three Abrahamic faiths, and calls for states to support Muslim immigrants to ‘integrate into European society culturally, economically and politically.’

Some of the other recommendations proposed by PACE include a greater commitment by member states to ‘ensure that knowledge about Islam and other beliefs is taught at school and through public life-long education’ and for ‘member states not to establish a general ban of the full veiling or other religious clothing, but protect the free choice of women to wear or not religious clothing and ensure equal opportunities for Muslim women to participate in public life and pursue education and professional activities.’

The full report can be read here.

Hat-tip to Islamophobia Watch.


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