KEY RECOMMENDATIONS FROM CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA TO MEMBER STATES AND EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS

Workshop on synergies and good practices on tackling anti-Muslim racism and discrimination

25th June 2019-Madrid 

As civil society organisations, we have highlighted the following recommendations that can be reached through specific actions, in close consultation, cooperation and full transparency with civil society experts.

 

  1. Tackle the structural manifestations of Islamophobia by adopting measures in key policy areas
  • Recognition of islamophobia (anti-Muslim racism/anti-Muslim hatred)  as a specific form of racism Islamophobia that refers to acts of violence and discrimination, as well as racist speech, fuelled by historical abuses and negative stereotyping and leading to exclusion and dehumanisation of Muslims, and all those perceived as such. Many manifestations of Islamophobia are structural in their nature, in the sense that discriminatory patterns against Muslims are embedded in policies, laws and practices of institutional or private bodies.
  • Support the adoption or improvement of national policies against racism, such as National Action Plans against Racism, with specific measures or strategies to counter Islamophobia, including measures to tackle intersectional discrimination targeting Muslim women (on the model of the Barcelona action plan against Islamophobia).
  • Adopt guidelines to implement an intersectional approach to religious dress restrictions by recognising these restrictions mostly target Muslim women and are against full gender equality. These guidelines could promote non-discriminatory approaches to enable full inclusion of all Muslim women in all areas of life. Assessment of existing legislation should be done taking into account this approach.
  • ·Develop and promote harmonisation of data collection in areas of hate crime and equality, recognising anti-Muslim bias as a category. These data should be disaggregated by multiple grounds of discrimination, including gender, race, ethnicity and religion.
  • Assess and acknowledge the discriminatory impact of counter-radicalisation and counter-terrorism measures and ensure that counter-terrorism measures comply with fundamental rights safeguards, especially when implementing the recently adopted EU counter-terrorism Directive.
  •  Ensure the safety of Muslim worship places, in dialogue with the communities involved.
  • Following the Council of Europe’s example, establish the day against Islamophobia on the 21th September as a date for raising awareness across Europe on the challenges and pr otection of Muslims

 

  1. Secure safe and decent working conditions for civil society working against Islamophobia
  • Refrain from participating in/supporting often-unfounded accusations against civil society organisations working against Islamophobia. These are clear manifestations of the generalised suspicion towards Muslims in Europe. Civil society organisations in Europe are key democratic stakeholders which ensure that all communities are heard and empowered and hold governments accountable. However, civil society organisations working against Islamophobia are often severely delegitimised and may have their reputation, resources and integrity threatened.
  • Develop and strengthen funding programmes enabling civil society working against Islamophobia to develop long-term projects for capacity building, advocacy for equality, strategic litigation, educational programmes, etc. This should be included in the current EU budget negotiations. Facilitating access to these funds is also crucial to allow civil society to benefit from them thus improving eligibility criteria to suit the realities of small NGOs is crucial to allow Csos to benefit from them.
  1. Consolidate the mandate of the European institutions to keep Islamophobia high on the agenda
  • Develop a roadmap on combating Islamophobia with concrete objectives and targets;
  • Include combating anti-Muslim hatred as a priority in forthcoming communications related to tackling racism and the future of the EU high-level group on combating racism and related intolerance;
  •  Secure the position of the EU coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred as long as it does not replace strong political will, actions and effective policies. Clarity about the role should be ensured by a clear mandate and transparent communication and consultation process.

Signatories:

AEQUITAS (Cyprus)

AFD International (Belgium)

Alliance Citoyenne (France)

Asociacion Musulmana por los Derechos Humanos (Spain)

CLAIM – Allianz gegen Islam – und Muslimfeindlichkeit (Germany)

Collectief tegen Islamofobie en Discriminatie (Netherlands)

Collective Against Islamophobia in Belgium (Belgium)

Collective Against Islamophobia in France (France)

COREIS Islamic Religious Community (Italy)

Dokustelle – Dokumentations- und Beratungsstelle Islamfeindlichkeit & antimuslimischer Rassismus (Austria)

ECPI-Euroregional Center for Public Initiatives (Romania)

Euro-Mediterraan Centrum Migratie & Ontwikkeling- EMCEMO (Netherlands)

European Forum of Muslim Women (Europe)

European Network Against Racism (Europe)

European Network on Religion and Belief (Europe)

Faiths Without Borders (Finland)

Fondazione L’Albero della Vita (Italy)

Forum of European Muslim Youth And Student Organisations (Europe)

Lallab France (France)

Muslim Association of Greece (Greece)

Organizacion Nacional para el Dialogo y la Participacion (Spain)

Ramiaschannel

Stichting Platform Islamitische Organisaties Rijnmond- SPIOR (Netherlands)

United Religion Initiative (Netherlands)

Islamophobia on EU agenda: need for more actions by States

Brussels, 4 December 2018 – Yesterday, the European Commission organised a high-level conference on anti-Muslim hatred, in the presence of Member States representatives and Commissioner Věra Jourová. A coalition of civil society organisations against Islamophobia [1]calls on European decision makers to strengthen the institutional recognition and mandate on Islamophobia.

Decision makers still have difficulties understanding Islamophobia as a systemic form of racism in Europe. However, the meeting acknowledged that it threatens full equality and fundamental rights principles and affects the whole of society, and some Member States made commitments to address the issue. Civil society organisations were central in shaping the debate and asking for more accountability from institutions and governments.

There has been increasing recognition and commitment at the European Union level to combating racism against Muslim people in Europe, or those perceived as such. This political commitment must lead to stronger understanding of the issue and concrete recommendations for actions to EU member states.

The current political context makes this all the more urgent. In several EU countries, islamophobic discourses are being used by government representatives and are shaping the way laws and policies are being developed and adopted, but also practices.

Amel Yacef, Chair of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR) said: “This meeting is an important step towards tangible actions to combat Islamophobia. We now expect EU decision makers to keep this issue high on their agenda. Especially at a time when parties using blatant islamophobic rhetoric have come to power in a number of EU countries, they need to send a clear signal that they are committed to ensuring equality and inclusion for all members of society.”

EU Member States must tackle the structural manifestations of anti-Muslim hatred by adopting national policies against racism which include specific measures to counter Islamophobia, including intersectional discrimination targeting Muslim women. They should also ensure that counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation measures are not discriminatory and respect fundamental rights.

We call on the European Commission and Member States to enable organisations working against Islamophobia to do their work without being delegitimised and having their resources and integrity threatened, as has been the case for several organisations. This not only prevents them from empowering communities and holding governments accountable but also contributes to the generalised suspicion towards Muslims in Europe. Instead, there is a need for meaningful collaboration with and participation of civil society organisations.

[1European Network Against Racism, European Network on Religion and Belief, European Forum of Muslim Women, Collective against Islamophobia in Belgium, Lallab, Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations.