16 June 2014 Ministry of Employment Sweden Department for Discrimination Issues Anja Jahn Günther
Report, Roundtable on Islamophobia in Europe, Stockholm, 10 June 2014 Upon the invitation of the Swedish Minister for Integration Erik Ullenhag, 18 experts, including scholars, representatives of European Government Offices and Agencies, international organisations and civil society gathered in Stockholm for a full day of roundtable discussion on the subject of Islamophobia in Europe. In addition, around 45 representatives from Swedish government agencies and civil society attended the meeting as members of an audience with the possibility to ask questions. The main objective of the discussion was to focus on Islamophobia in Europe, share experiences, good examples and discuss possible actions in the future to safeguard open and inclusive societies. The response to this initiative was positive as a meeting on the subject has not been held at this level previously. The following report is a summary of what was discussed throughout the day.
Islamophobia in Europe While the concept of islamophobia is contested, participants around the table agreed that a meeting at this level on the subject was a good initiative. The discussions touched briefly upon the definition of the concept itself and its applicability. Opinions also differed as to whether islamophiobia in Europe should be seen as a structural problem or as one of attitudes and values, and hence what response is most relevant. The definitions of other concepts, such as racism, attitudes and prejudice, were also touched upon. According to the Council of Europe, Islamophobia falls under their definition of racism and should as such be treated as a form of racism and xenophobia. Islamophobic rhetoric has become commonplace in public discourse and mainstream politics around Europe. Islamophobia is regarded as the “go to phobia” for scoring political points and gaining votes by populist political movements. At the same time, younger generations European Muslims, born and raised in European countries, are increasingly reacting against the use of us/them and islamophobic rhetoric as their belonging and inclusion in their societies in Europe is questioned.
Media and the internet are considered the most important factors in the spread of islamophobic rhetoric and thought. Islamophobic rhetoric mostly stands unanswered on the internet and there is a need for decisive response from official channels with factual and rational arguments. At the same time, the principle of Freedom of Speech seems to take precedence over the fight against hate speech. Data collection Discrimination, hate crimes and exclusion of the Muslim population is ongoing around Europe. Generally, very little data on the specific situation of Europe’s Muslim population is collected and much of the discrimination and hate crimes that do occur are also likely to go unnoticed for several reasons. Among them are low levels of trust in public authorities, which means low levels of reporting, and widespread perception of events as simply “everyday life” that does not warrant a report. Furthermore there are few attempts to measure the more subtle “non-events” and effects of islamophopia in depth, for example the number of Muslim women that do not finish higher studies as they see no possibility to ever get to use their knowledge in a workplace. The small amounts of data that exists are often collected in small and specific studies that cannot be combined or compared with each other which leave the results vulnerable to deniability. There was a general consensus around the table that more data is needed and that it has to be collected both using quantitative measures and qualitative in- depth studies on the hidden discrimination and exclusion of Muslims in Europe. However, more data must also be followed up by other types of initiatives as it alone is not the solution. Hate crimes FRA reports that few EU countries include hate crime with islamophobic motives in statistics. However, a slight increase in hate crimes motivated by islamophobia has been noticed in statistics which could mean that more incidents are reported. Some countries have national helplines for reporting of hate crimes and there are a number of civil society initiatives aimed at collecting data and facilitating reporting and data collection on islamophobic hate crimes and discrimination. Ongoing initiatives A number of initiatives are currently ongoing around Europe in civil society, under the auspices of international organisations or as government run projects. Among these are cooperation and council with Muslim faith communities and civil society organisations,
3 initiatives to collect data on discrimination and hate crimes, awareness raising and information campaigns and value based educational and training initiatives for professionals and youth. Recommendations and proposals from the roundtable Increased political will and leadership is needed to take responsibility to counter islamophobic rhetoric in mainstream politics and on the internet with factual and rational arguments. Encourage Members of the European Parliament to raise the issue An EU wide Advocacy Strategy for the Muslim populations like the Roma strategy Cooperation between likeminded states on EU level to put questions of xenophobia and racism on the agenda Action against xenophobia and racism must be applied in all areas of government (like questions of gender equality). More cooperation and consultation with civil society and Muslim faith communities, including more funding Double strategy relating to data collection – quantitative and more in depth qualitative. “Let’s trade prejudice” – educational game and campaign aimed at highlighting the contents and motivations behind prejudice Full adherence to Freedom of Religion laws and greater accommodation of religious practices Intensified work targeting the internet and media to counter hate-speech and the spread of islamophobic rhetoric Day against Islamophobia, 21 September, initiated by Council of Europe
Program Roundtable discussion on Islamophobia in Europe Stockholm 10 June 2014 Time: 08.30 -16.00 Venue: Aulan, Centralposthuset, Mäster Samuelsgatan 70 Moderator: Angeles Bermudez-Svankvist, Director General at the Government Offices
08.30 Registration 09.00 Welcome address by Minister Erik Ullenhag Presentation of Participants 09.15 Session 1 – State of play and future challenges: Islamophobia in Europe Introduction Henri Nickels, Head of Sector Equality, Equality and Citizens’ Rights Department, Fundamental Rights Agency Discussion around the table 10.20 Coffee Break Dialogue continues Questions from the audience 12.00 Lunch served in Boberghallen (level 2) 13.00 Address by Adnan Kifayat, Special Representative to Muslim Communities, US Department of State Session 2 – Policy and practice to counter Islamophobia
Introduction Stephanos Stavros, Executive Secretary to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), Council of Europe
5 Discussion around the table 14. 20 Coffee Break Dialogue continues Questions from the audience Summary by moderator Angeles Bermudez Svankvist Closing address by Minister Ullenhag 16.00 End of Program
Participants around the table 1. Ms Nayeer Afzal, Team Leader, Integration and Community Rights Directorate, Department for Communities and Local Government, UK 2. Dr Chris Allen, Lecturer in Social Policy, University of Birmingham, Member of the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, UK 3. Ms Linda Alzaghari, Managing Director at MINOTENK Minority Political Think Tank, Norway 4. Ms Angeles Bermudez Svankvist, Moderator, Director General at the Government Offices, Sweden 5. Mr François Deleu, Centre for Equal Opportunities and Opposition to Racism, Belgium 6. Mr Paul Giannasi, Police Superintendent and Manager of the UK Government Hate Crime Programme, Ministry of Justice 7. Prof. Nacira Guénif-Souilamas, Professor at University Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, vice-president of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Barbès, France 8. Mr Haider Ibrahim, Chairman of the Islamic Shia Associations in Sweden (ISS), Member of the Government Council for contacts with Religious Communities, Sweden 9. Mr Adnan Kifayat, Special representative to Muslim Communities, Department of State, USA 10. Ms Natasja Moritz, Program coordinator Anti-discrimination policy, Integration and Society Department, Ministry for Social Affairs and Employment, the Netherlands 11. Mr Fiyaz Mughal, Director, Faith Matters, Member of the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group, UK 12. Mr Marwan Muhammad, statistician, founder and Director of FoulExpress and spokesman for the Collective Against Islamophobia(CCIF), France
7 13. Dr. Jochen Müller, Chairman and founder of ufuq.de and expert for the Prevention and Cooperation Clearing Point (CLS) programme of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees in Germany. 14. Prof. Jørgen Nielsen, Former Head of Centre for European Islamic Thought, University of Copenhagen 15. Dr Henri Nickels, Head of Sector Equality, Equality and Citizens’ Rights Department, FRA 16. Prof. Jonas Otterbeck, Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, University of Lund, Sweden 17. Dr Michaël Pivot, Director, European Network Against Racism (ENAR) 18. Dr Stephanos Stavros, Executive Secretary to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), Council of Europe 19. Mr Taskin Tankut Soykan, Adviser on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination Against Muslims, ODHIR 20. Mr Erik Ullenhag, Minister for Integration, Sweden
Published on Jun 19, 2014
Summary report form the roundtable event held in Stockholm in June 2014 that was facilitated by the Swedish government.