Muslims across Europe face ‘new kind of terror’

Anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim resentment have fused and hardened in Europe, the 2018 European Islamophobia Report has said.

In Europe the Muslim community is facing a “new kind of terror” which is rooted in anti-Muslim racism and white supremacist ideology, a report funded in part by the EU has said.

According to the European Islamophobia Report, nationalist, populist and far-right movements have increased their influence across the European continent and, where they have achieved power, they have undermined the rights of minorities in general, singling out Muslims in particular.

The policies and rhetoric of governments, of the kinds seen in 2018 in Italy, Austria, Hungary and Poland, has eventually led to violence against Muslims, the report outlines.

“Finally, the xenophobic and anti-Islam climate fostered by far-right governments paves the way for physical and terror attacks against Muslims or people who might be taken to be Muslim,” it said.

Even where they have not come into power, as is the case in the majority of European counties, far-right movements have imposed what the report describes as a “nativist ideology” coupled with an “Islamophobia agenda” on national debate. This leads to Islamophobia entering the mainstream.

“Centrist parties do not manage to counter far-right discourse and often even fall into their trap by adopting their xenophobic approaches on security, immigration, and diversity issues,” the report said.

The individual country reports gathered by the initiative paint a stark picture. In Austria Islamophobic incidents rose by 74 per cent over the course of 2018, with the government policy towards politically organised Islamic groups reportedly legitimising anti-Islamist sentiment.

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In France, the report described how counter terror policy had led to the militarisation of the police. The counter terror policy in general in the country, the report said, was “jeopardising the fundamental rights” of Muslims in France.

In Italy the report observed the country was becoming “increasingly intolerant towards Muslims and migrants” as instances of hate speech on social media nearly triple from 2017 to 2018.

The report, also looked at the complicated way far-right and Islamophobia had morphed online as well as the instances of Islamophobic terror attacks and extremely violent attacks targeting Muslims.

These included the attack of three Arab students by over ten men at the Katowice Central Rail Station in Poland and the attack in the UK on the Al-Majlis Al-Hussain Islamic Centre in September when three worshippers were injured by a car deliberately driven into pedestrians.

Ultimately the report said there was an “urgent need to counter anti-Muslim racism”. It called on the European Parliament to adopt a resolution on combating Islamophobia recommending a similar strategy to the one that had been used to combat anti-Semitism.

It added that right wing extremism needed to be tackled with more focus from security agencies as well as better communication between authorities and Europe’s Muslim communities.

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