EMISCO Side-Event in Warsaw HDIM 2016

EMISCO Side-Event in Warsaw HDIM 2016‏

The consequences of Islamophobic discourse in the EU

As every year, EMISCO organised on 26 September a side-event during the working session on Tolerance and non-discrimination within the last Human Dimension Implementation meeting of OSCE in Warsaw. The topic was the consequences of islamophobic discourse in the European political parties. Many NGO representatives, OSCE delegations and experts took part to this successful event.

The unprecedented influence of xenophobic and Islamophobic parties reflects a major normalisation of Islamophobia that runs deep into mainstream society and politics. It is very easy to notice how extreme views of Islam, originally associated with the far and the radical right, have been increasingly co-opted by liberal and conservative mainstream parties, largely normalised in everyday discourse, and absorbed into policies of European governments over the past two decades. The hate-mongering politicians of the radical right are apparently succeeding in swapping a racist agenda for an Islamophobic one; but it mainstream politicians, intellectuals, and media who have smoothed the way for anti-Muslim bigotry to move closer to the mainstream.

With political trust at an all-time low, some mainstream politicians are taking advantage of voter apathy in national and local politics to advance their own cause. Islamophobia thus has become a successful political tool to mobilize the masses. The construction of the Muslim other has become a useful tool to distract from own failures and to justify miseries elsewhere.

That is why, EMISCO, in partnership with the European Forum of Muslim Women, the Institute for Islamic Strategic Affairs, ENAR, ThinkOut and the Centre for cross-cultural communication was focusing on the issue of political Islamophobia that is on the increase and is more dangerous than the far right anti-Islam movements.

Our aim was to highlight the prevailing anti-Islam discourse and bring to the attention of OSCE member states the fact that there are progressive political leaders who want to confront their colleagues, both in private meetings and in OSCE summits. All they need is support and encouragement from OSCE institutions and Chairmanship.

EMISCO believes that Islamophobia as a political tool is more dangerous than any other narrative because in the hands of powerful politicians, it is becoming a norm and thus a big hindrance in the way of normal minority-majority co-existence.