Cairo, May 30: Nearly one third of Muslims living in the European Union have been discriminated against last year, with ethnic background, not religion, is the main cause of discrimination, a EU report has found.
“On average 1 in 3 Muslim respondents were discriminated against in the past 12 months, and 11% experienced a racist crime,” the EU Fundamental Rights Agency said in a new report.
The report, which surveyed 23,500 members of ethnic minorities and migrant communities, said Muslims were largely discriminated against in the labor field.
“The high levels of discrimination in employment are worrying. Employment is a key part of the integration process,” FRA Director Morten Kjaerum said.
“It is central to the contributions that migrants make to society, and to making such contributions visible.
“Discrimination may hamper the integration process.”
The report found that up to 91 percent of Muslim in EU countries did not report discriminatory acts they suffered.
“Overall, 59% of Muslim respondents believe that ‘nothing would happen or change by reporting’, and 38% say that ‘it happens all the time’ and therefore they do not make the effort to report incidents.”
A fifth of Muslim victims were concerned about possible negative consequences if they reported the discriminatory acts.
“Young Muslim respondents, in particular, indicate that they have little faith in the police as a public service,” said the report.
Ethnicity not religion
The majority of the surveyed Muslims said that their ethnic background, not religion, was the ground for discrimination.
“Of those Muslim respondents who experienced discrimination in the past 12 months, the majority believed that this was mainly due to their ethnic background,” the report said.
“Only 10% stated that they thought the discrimination they experienced was based solely on their religion.”
Muslim respondents believed that wearing traditional clothes and Islamic symbols, including hijab, had nothing to do with the discriminatory acts.
“In fact, wearing traditional or religious clothing (such as a headscarf) does not appear to increase the likelihood of being discriminated against.”
However, 51 percent of Muslims believed that discrimination on grounds of religion or belief is “very” or “fairly” widespread.
The report also reinforced claims by rights groups that police are stopping and searching individuals on the grounds of their ethnicity.
Two fifths of Muslims, who said they had been stopped by police in 2008, said it had been on the grounds of their ethnic origin, with accusations of ethnic profiling from North Africans in Spain or Italy reaching over 70 percent.
Kjaerum urged European countries to introduce new mechanisms to help fight discrimination crimes.
“Truly accessible mechanisms are needed, where victims of racism can report in confidence,” Kjaerum said.
“We therefore urge Member States to improve the recording of discrimination and racist crime, and to further strengthen the role and capacity of support structures.”