By Rabia Ali
ISTANBUL (AA) - The year 2022, overshadowed by Russia's war on Ukraine, overlooked domestic issues including Islamophobia in some countries. It also exposed the "stereotypical perspective" of Europeans with regards to refugees, said a new report on Islamophobia in Europe.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has uncovered the stereotypical perspective of many Europeans vis-à-vis different kinds of refugees, welcoming white, Christian (female) Ukrainians as opposed to the often-violent resistance and rejection of Muslim refugees,” said the European Islamophobia Report 2022, released Tuesday on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Enes Bayrakli, a co-editor of the report, who is also a professor at the Turkish-German University, said anti-Muslim statements in national media, racism in laws and policies were discussed in the publication, which covers 23 countries.
The report was launched in a webinar and the panel was shared by four authors, including Farid Hafez, a professor at the Williams College in Massachusetts, US. The state of Islamophobia in France, Belgium, Austria and Netherlands was discussed in the event.
Speaker Kawtar Najib said 2022 in France was particularly Islamophobic in the political and media sphere, notably during the presidential election. “Islamophobia is very present in politics and even embedded in laws. So, instead of having laws that protect religious and ethnic minorities, we have many discriminatory laws,” he said.
- March 15 major success, France continued crackdown on Muslims
The report celebrates the UN resolution declaring March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
Asserting that politics remains the essential driver of Islamophobia, the 584-page report includes the effects of the ongoing war in Ukraine, the coverage of FIFA World Cup in Qatar by the European media, and how anti-Muslim legislation and measures in countries such as France and Austria developed.
France continued its path of a crackdown on Muslims, and the government's "systematic obstruction" policy led to the control of 1,727 Muslim institutions, 118 closures and 10 million euros seized between January and August 2022, according to the analysis.
In Belgium, the minister of justice pressurized the leading Imam of the Great Mosque of Brussels to resign or risk losing government funding for the mosque.
In Denmark, a hijab ban in elementary schools was suggested. The country was also criticized by the European Commission for increasing discrimination and hate speech against Muslims.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, meanwhile, ignored the fight against Islamophobia, and defended the government’s Prevent counter-terrorism strategy and vowed to refocus it on the threat of so-called "Islamic extremism." The official government data on religious hate offences in the UK recorded an increase of 37%, totaling 8,730 cases, of these 42% involved Muslim victims.
In Germany, 364 Islamophobic crimes were registered by the police. An NGO focusing on anti-Muslim racism in Austria reported 1,000 cases of anti-Muslim hate crimes last year.