To find out how far anti-Islam opinions and practices have reached and how these effect Muslim communities and even the majority societies in Europe, ENAR – the European Network Against Racism asked all its 27 co-ordinations in EU to focus on Islamophobia in their yearly reports of 2011-2012. The finding of the reports confirmed, what many Muslim groups have been warning against for years – a widespread Islamophobia is very prevalent in all sections of the European societies, specifically in employment, education and access to goods and services. The study is the first pan-European qualitative survey of Islamophobia. To highlight this sad situation and present the key findings of the report, ENAR invited MEPs of various political groups, journalists and NGO representatives to the European Parliament on 20th March. The goal was to exchange information and come up with some practical remedies.
Our Secretary General, Mr Bashy Quraishy took part in the meeting and in his intervention, he focused on legal, political and media’s role in spreading Islamophobia and proposed the following:
1. Islamophobia should not be exclusively connected to the question of mosques, headscarves, beards, burial places and Halal food. Socio-economic discrimination against Muslim communities is equally vital to be dealt with.
2. Islam and Muslims should not be looked as a single homogeneous community but diverse communities, with their distinct characters.
3. A comprehensive horizontal Directive was badly needed, which will not only update the 2000 Equality Directives but also protect religious minorities from hate speech, demonization and incitement to hatred. The time was ripe in EU to extend the same legal and moral protection to Muslim communities, which luckily is available in the case of Jewish and homosexual groups.
4. EU Parliament should launch a EU wide inter-faith awareness raising campaign or a European Year Against Islamophobia, directed towards the majority societies. It should be done not for a day or a week but on a regular basis.
5. Legal authorities should put in place mechanisms to monitor and check the rise of racist, fascists, extreme nationalists and violent anti-Islam movements. The MEPs present and the participants of the meeting appreciated EMISCO proposals. MEP Sajjad Karim from the Group of European Conservatives assured that he would give serious consideration to our suggestions. A very successful and constructive meeting in every which way!
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