Anti-Muslim sentiments fueled by politicians, governments in Europe

Published 18.03.2019 01:21

Western governments and politicians that are supposed to oversee the rights of all citizens regardless of their religious and ethnic background often fail to uphold their duties, discriminating against Muslim people.

"I will not allow the creation of an integrated Muslim community in Slovakia," former President Robert Fico said last year, marginalizing Muslim citizens living in the country, according to the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) report on Islamophobic statements by politicians in Europe.

An anti-Muslim attitude has always been a part of Europe from remarks by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders despite their discriminatory and openly xenophobic policies contradicting EU principles. The year 2018 was no different from previous years in terms of resentment targeting Muslims, witnessing numerous remarks by politicians.

Spanish Secretary of State for Defense Agustin Conde claimed that one of the targets of the army was to prevent his daughter from wearing a burqa, while former Finns Party youth branch Chairman Sebastian Tynkkynen noted that if there were fewer Muslims in Finland, Finland would be safer.

"Muslims have no business here. They want to destroy and take over the country. I hate all Muslims to the extent that I get sick when I see them," Monika Wollmer from the Sweden Democrats said last year.

In 2018, while most far-right parties, whose key feature is anti-Muslim sentiments, are still in opposition, some have gained major influence by becoming governing parties such as in the cases of Austria, Bulgaria and Finland. While others may still be in opposition, their anti-Muslim discourse, which is so central to most of them, has become mainstream since their issues have been co-opted by former centrist political parties.

Another politician in Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, the leader of the Social Democrats, said: "A school with a foundation in Islam is not part of the majority culture in Denmark."

Unfortunately, anti-Muslim actions are not only restricted to politicians in Europe, as enshrining anti-Muslim rhetoric into law is becoming increasingly common practice.

In addition to the 2017 decision by the European Court of Justice to allow employers to ban staff from wearing the headscarf, nearly one-third of all the member states of the European Union have placed legal restrictions on Muslim women's religious dress at either the local or national level.

Moreover, despite the overwhelming increase in anti-Muslim incidents, the majority of European countries refuse to include anti-Muslim actions as a separate category of hate-crime, an essential first step to uncovering the real extent of this problem, while listing anti-Semitism as one.

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