Most Muslims in the European Union have a high sense of trust in democratic institutions despite experiencing widespread discrimination and harassment, according to a new major survey by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
The survey captures the experiences of Muslim immigrants and their EU-born children, revealing that public attitudes have changed all too little over the last decade, FRA said on September 21.
Among the key findings was that 76 per cent of Muslims polled feel strongly attached to the country they live in.
However, 31 per cent of those seeking work have been discriminated against over the past five years.
Forty-two per cent of those polled who had been stopped by the police over the past year said this happened because of the migrant or ethnic minority background.
The survey was carried out in 15 EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.
“Our survey results make a mockery of the claim that Muslims aren’t integrated into our societies. On the contrary, we see a trust in democratic institutions that is higher than much of the general population,” FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty said.
“However, every incident of discrimination and hate crime hampers their inclusion and reduces their chances of finding employment. We risk alienating individuals and their communities, with potentially perilous consequences.”
“I am encouraged by the confidence of Europe’s Muslim communities in our public institutions and rule of law, despite the individual challenges of discrimination which they attest to,” European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said.
“But I am disheartened by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency’s report which shows that over the past five years almost one in three Muslims feel that they have been discriminated against when looking for work, but that only 12 per cent of Muslims have reported the latest cases of discrimination. I want to assure our Muslim citizens that the European Commission will not tolerate intolerance. It goes against our values and our laws.”
European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová says: “The Fundamental Rights Agency report shows that discrimination against Muslims is too widespread. I’m especially concerned about the challenges faced by Muslim women in Europe. It is now our duty both at European, national and local level to make sure that anti-discrimination measures are respected and that the Muslim community can trust the police”.
The report suggests a number of solutions, including effective sanctions for violations of anti-discrimination legislation, reinforcement of trust in the police through targeted outreach activities, and greater efforts to increase the participation of Muslims in decision-making processes.
(Photo, of a mosque in the Bulgarian town of Assenovgrad: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)