Some 512.6 million people live in the European Union. Twenty-five million of them are Muslim.
If we include the European nations that are not members of the EU, the total rises to approximately 120 million Muslims living across Europe. When we only look at European Union member states, we see the following numbers of Muslims living in each state: 5.72 million in France, 4.95 million in Germany, 2.87 million in Britain, 1.21 million in Holland, 1.18 million in Spain, 870,000 in Belgium, 790,000 in Bulgaria and 620,000 in Greece. Muslims form a significant portion of the populations of the EU member nations they live in. In Bulgaria 11.2 percent, France 8.8 percent, Sweden 8.1 percent, Belgium 7.6 percent, Holland 7.1 percent, Austria 6.9 percent, Britain 6.3 percent and Germany 6.1 percent of the population is Muslim.
First, we would like to wholeheartedly wish all Christians living in Europe a Merry Christmas. The majority of Europe will celebrate Christmas with pleasure, both on Christmas Eve and today for Christmas Day. Happiness and joy to all of you.
Europe is neither a Christian continent nor is the EU a Christian union. However, though Christians are able to celebrate their religious holidays, Muslims do not have the same rights. Since Christian religious days are state holidays, they are allowed to observe their religious traditions. In contrast, not a single state holiday for Muslims exists in the bloc. When Muslims have religious festivals, they still have to work in Europe. In short, in a Europe where Muslims are alienated on an institutional level, it should not come as a surprise that hostility toward Muslims cannot be quenched and increases all the time.
Recently, European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said according to the latest research, intolerance toward Muslims has increased in EU states. Unfortunately, this is the reality and very true. The European commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourova, on the other hand, directed attention to the fact that discrimination, intolerance and racist actions against 25 million Muslims living in the European Union is a breach of their fundamental rights.
Reports and surveys received from international nongovernmental organizations document the fact that intolerance and racism toward Muslims are on the rise.
Hostility toward Muslims is on the rise across the EU and the attacks in Germany in 2018 alone are more than enough to demonstrate the urgency of the situation.
Germany's Interior Ministry announced that more than 578 attacks had been made on mosques and Muslims in Germany, and most of these attacks were racist in nature. It is stated that data relating to assaults between January and September 2018 showed that they may continue to increase. The ministry also reiterated that according to records from 2017, there were 780 attacks.
It also stated that hate crimes were included in the attacks and as a result, defamation attacks were also added to the data in addition to physical attacks against people and institutions. The report indicated that the number of Muslims injured in such attacks has increased. According to Interior Ministry data, while 27 Muslims were injured in attacks in 2017, the number jumped to 40 in the first nine months of 2018. It is important to remember Muslim nongovernmental organizations have reported that: "These statistics do not contain all of the crimes and only partially reflect the reality since the statement made by Germany's Interior Ministry only reveals data that has been recorded. Since many events are not reported, a decrease in the numbers occurs and many details are left out regarding the attacks."
Well, yet on another Dec. 24-25, while Europe celebrates Christmas, European Muslims' lives and possessions are in grave danger. To end the spread of hostility toward Muslims, first of all, discrimination targeting them should end across the EU. When Muslim religious festivals become state holidays like Christian festivals, meaning that equal rights become a reality, normalization can be achieved. This is the strongest message that can be directed at racists. If the EU is the union of all humanity, both Christian and Muslim, it must take steps to prove it.