BRUSSELS MAY 24. According to the latest report published by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), physical and verbal abuse against Muslims in the European Union has been on the rise, particularly since the attacks of September 11.
The report indicates that the current abuse is more serious in some northern E.U. States, where racist physical assaults have risen in Britain, Holland, Denmark and Sweden. The situation is compounded by a rising tide of Muslim immigrants and asylum seekers. According to observers, xenophobic and racist attitudes have dramatically risen in the E.U.'s three largest countries—Germany, France and Italy—where authorities are working to curb further rises in immigration.
Muslim women and schoolchildren wearing headscarves have reportedly
been prime victims of this increase in hostility, which also extends
to Sikh men wearing turbans. Numerous attacks against mosques have
also been reported. The EUMC Director, Beate Winkler, was today quoted
An atmosphere has been created in which Muslims have to
justify themselves that they are not terrorists.
The EUMC Chairman, Bob Purkiss, said:
September 11 has acted as a
detonator of feelings which have not been properly addressed. If it is
right for Europe to give a lead where there is ethnic tension in the
world, then it is imperative that it puts its own house in order
first. Currently, E.U. Governments are discussing a number of
possible options as part of its drive towards a common asylum
policy. The report appears against a background of recent political
victories by centre-right parties all over Europe, each emphasising
strict agendas to curb the rise of non-European immigrants and asylum
seekers. The political mood has changed so dramatically that even
moderate European leaders like the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair,
and the Spanish President, Jose Maria Aznar, have recently called for
a new strategy and drive against illegal immigration.
The report is highly critical of the way asylum seekers are treated in
some E.U. States as
no more than political capital. It does
responsible attitude of most European leaders
following racial attacks, but it is critical of comments made by
politicians like the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi and the
former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.Austria ranks highest
in its percentage of foreigners with 9.2 per cent, followed by Belgium
and Germany with less than nine per cent; most other E.U. countries
have about five per cent. But the recent swing to the far-right has
dramatically fed prejudice against immigrants and refugees. Last year,
some 380,000 people—a substantial portion of whom were
Muslim—openly sought refugee status in the E.U., many of whom
claimed instant rights to housing, education, health care and
welfare. But many of them were also denied the right to work and
subsequently were forced to live off social security, which has caused
much concern among native populations.