The revival of racism in European countries rings the warning bell not only for Muslims but also other religious minorities like Jews
The rise of xenophobia, hatred toward "the other" and intolerance toward minorities, is often linked to certain social, political and economic developments. In other words, societies that experience financial problems and political turmoil along with social ills - or moral crises — feel an urge to identify an enemy to which they can direct their anger. In most cases, the enemy tends to be the closest and weakest target around: minorities. Under such circumstances, societies can get carried away by racism, leaving them with experiences that will haunt them for years to come. Contemporary history is filled with examples of countries trying to overcome challenges by means of mounting pressure on minorities, starting wars and committing atrocities.
In recent years, right-wing extremism has been on the rise in Europe and placing European democracies and order at risk. In France, we have been watching Marine Le Pen emerge as a popular figure. In Germany, people like Martin Schulz have been making reckless statements to tap into the far-right's potential. Ironically, the recklessness of others forces incumbents, such as Angela Merkel, to adopt more radical language and game plans. Many readers will recall how Merkel handled the refugee crisis and made a Palestinian child cry on live television. The same goes for the Netherlands, where an openly racist politician like Geert Wilders has single-handedly reshaped national politics. Nowadays, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte is trying to curb the influence of Wilders by incorporating racism and xenophobia into his party's main platform.The situation is perfectly clear: One by one, European countries are surrendering to xenophobia as populism takes hold across the continent.
Although xenophobia has largely presented itself in the form of hate crimes against Muslims, it is important to stress that Islamophobia is fueled by the public visibility of Muslims, terror attacks and an influx of Syrian refugees to Europe. But it should be clear that hatred toward Muslims will soon evolve into an all-out attack against all minorities. I am afraid that this blind hate, which has been aggravated by the reckless words and actions of European politicians, will soon affect the Jewish and Roma communities. Let us not forget that the wave of oppression against minorities started as a series of measures taken by the Italian government against the Roma community in 2008. And let us keep in mind that acts of vandalism took place in the United States last month against Jewish cemeteries.
This is a difficult time for Muslims, Jews and other minorities in Europe. Although most observers mistakenly think that Muslims alone are at risk, it is evident that ultimately no minority group will escape this process unharmed. Nobody should believe that they will be alright. Remember what happened during World War II. Before things get worse for everyone, minorities in Europe should work together to stop this dangerous trend. Muslims, Jews and others must unite against this climate of oppression. Their joint efforts are the only way to turn things around.
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