By KASEY McDONNELL.
Europe is seeing a rise in crimes against Muslims because of their beliefs. These crimes have only increased after events like the Paris Attacks of November 2015.
To try and solve this problem, leaders of countries and organisations in Europe gathered to combat the rise of Islamophobia recently, at the first ever European Islamophobia Summit.
The purpose of the summit, held in Sarajevo, was to explore solutions to these crimes directed at Muslims.
Racism and hate against Muslims is a rising problem worldwide, particularly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. In the UK, between 40-60% of mosques, Islamic centres and other Muslim organisations have had a hate crime attack since September 11, 2001.
As well as this, after the Paris attacks last year, reported hate crimes against Muslims in London tripled. Strain on Europe with the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis has fuelled anti-Muslim political campaigns as well.
“It is within this increasingly politicised climate of divisiveness and bigotry that the first ever European Islamophobia Summit was made even more important and timely,” said Muddassar Ahmed, the spokesperson for the Summit.
What was the summit all about?
The aim of the summit was to announce a final declaration that offered a wide range of recommendations to combat Islamophobia in Europe. They called for active opposition against discriminating policies based on religion (like those put forward by Donald Trump and the Prime Minister of Slovakia, which propose to ban Muslim migrants). They also mentioned the need for public awareness campaigns, and the need to define Islamophobia as a type of hate crime in the EU.
In general, the summit declared, we need to work to protect communities against discrimination.
Essentially, the summit advocates for community action against discrimination. They think that it’s vital for everyone in the European community to stand up for victims of hate crimes and religious discrimination.
Dr. Farid Hafez of Salzburg University said that Islamophobia posed a big challenge to democracy, freedom and tolerance in Europe. However, it is not a challenge that is unbeatable. The belief among those at the summit was that actions by governments in Europe, combined with public action against bigotry, can help stop Islamophobia from creating more extremism.
So what about us?
What does all of this have to do with New Zealand?
Just like in Europe, we risk Islamophobia becoming a big issue here. With our work against Daesh (also known as ISIS), hate crimes against Muslims has become more of a risk.
While things are not as bad here as they are in other countries, such as Slovakia, we still need to make sure we are helping fight any and all discrimination. We are all part of one world and we need to work together.
Simple stuff – like standing up against any intolerance you see at school, or telling your local politician that you believe in tolerance – can go a long way.
While Islamophobia is a problem that is steadily affecting more and more European citizens, it can be stopped. Having organisations and nations come together to figure out a path to reducing racism against Muslims in Europe is the first of many steps towards stopping Islamophobia.
Then we need to act on those plans. Our global community can prevent Islamophobia from undermine the principles of tolerance and freedom.
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