European Islamophobia Report 2016

The second edition of the European Islamophobia Report was published on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 21st March this year by the Turkish Foundation for Political Economic and Social Research, SETA. The European Islamophobia Report seeks to annually document the state of Islamophobia through the analysis of developments in the media, politics, in education, judicial systems, in the labour force and beyond. This year’s edition of the European Islamophobia Report includes analysis of Islamophobia in 27 European countries. Each year the report is made available for free here and it is also distributed among non-governmental organisations, activists, policy makers and journalists across Europe. Previous editions of the European Islamophobia Report have also been presented in the European Parliament and at the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE-ODIHR) 2016 Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, this demonstrating the wide reach of the report.
The European Islamophobia Report is edited by experts in the study of Islamophobia Dr Enes Bayraklı, assistant professor at the Turkish German University and Dr Farid Hafez, Fulbright–Botstiber Visiting Professor of Austrian-American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Since its inception in 2015, the report has included contributions from members of the counter-Islamophobia kit project team; Arzu Merali of the Islamic Human Rights Commission and Dr Amina Easat-Daas of the University of Leeds, who wrote about Islamophobia in the UK and Belgium respectively.
Dr Farid Hafez states that “the aim of the annual EIR was to create data to help 1. NGO’s, political parties in Europe, and stakeholders to combat Islamophobia as one of the most obvious forms of racism in our societies by providing data. 2. to provide data for scholars of racism and Islamophobia studies to conduct more detailed research on specific aspects of Islamophobia in Europe.” In the long term the report aims to document developments in Islamophobia in every European nation state. The editors, Bayraklı and Hafez, note that “Islamophobia has become a real danger to the foundations of democratic order and the values of the European Union. It has also become the main challenge to the social peace and coexistence of different cultures, religions and ethnicities in Europe.”, thus Islamophobia across the continent presents not only a threat to European Muslims, but also the bases of social cohesion in Europe.
In both 2015 and 2016, and since the European Islamophobia Report also documents Eastern European countries, as Dr Hafez states “we also observe… the widespread fear of Muslims in those countries that were formerly not considered in the debate about Islamophobia,” meaning that like the CIK project, the remit of study goes beyond the typical focus on anti-Muslim racism in Western Europe.
The 2016 edition of the report highlights that across numerous fields and throughout Europe Islamophobia continues to grow. Islamophobic discourses in each state are shaped by national and current trends, with the ‘refugee crisis’ being particularly influential in the proliferation of anti-Muslim racism in recent months. The report highlights that this development has been significant across Europe, both in cases facing large waves of Muslim migration and those who have welcomed relatively few Muslim migrants.
This year’s edition of the European Islamophobia Report also indicates the highly-gendered nature of Islamophobia throughout the continent. Muslim women, and especially those who visibly appear Muslim (such as through wearing the Islamic headscarf), are more likely to be victims of Islamophobic attacks. For example, the French report, authored by French counter-Islamophobia activist Yasser Louati, indicates that the Coordination Against Racism and Islamophobia recorded a 130% increase in Islamophobic attacks reported to the organisation during 2016. Of the 576 Islamophobic incidents documented by the organisation, 90% were perpetrated against Muslim women. These statistics reflect evidence compiled by the pan-European organisation, The European Network Against Racism, in their report ‘Forgotten Women: The Impact of Islamophobia on Muslim Women’, which includes a contribution from Counter-Islamophobia Kit team member, Dr Elsa Mescoli.
The European Islamophobia Report also documents the cases of French Muslim woman Esma Bougnaoui and Belgian Muslim woman Samira Achbita. Bougnaoui’s workplace dismissal was deemed unlawful, whilst Achbita’s expulsion from the workplace was seen to be permissible since it corresponded to the general prohibition of all outward signs of political, philosophical and religious beliefs exhibited by employees in the workplace in Belgium. Ultimately, these two similar cases, with significantly different legal outcomes, led to the European Court of Justice ruling issued in March 2017, which risks setting a worrying precedence for Islamophobic discrimination against Muslim women in the workplace. (You can find out more about the European Court of Justice ruling on headscarves in the workplace in a forthcoming blog to be published by CIK in July 2017).
References
BAYRAKLI, E. & HAFEZ, F. (eds.) 2017. The State of Islamophobia in Europe, Istanbul SETA.
EASAT-DAAS, A. (ed.) 2017 Islamophobia in Belgium: National Report 2016, Istanbul SETA.
LOUATI, Y. (ed.) 2017. Islamophobia in France: National Report 2016, Istanbul SETA.
MERALI, A. (ed.) 2017. Islamophobia in the UK: National Report 2016, Istanbul: SETA.
MESCOLI, E. 2016. Forgetten Women: The Impact of Islamophobia on Muslim Women in Belgium In: SETA, D. (ed.). Brussels: ENAR.
SETA, D. 2016. Forgotten Women: The Impact of Islamophobia on Muslim Women. Brussels: ENAR, European Network Against Racism.