NGO coalition statement following 4th European Commission Round Table on anti-Muslim hatred
On Friday 8 December, several NGOs from the European coalition against Islamophobia[[Informal platform of NGOs working on combatting islamophobia at national and European level. For more information, please contact Julie Pascoet email@example.com]] attended the 4th roundtable on anti-Muslim hatred and discrimination organised by the European Commission and chaired by the EU coordinator on combatting anti-Muslim hatred, David Friggieri. This marks two years now since his appointment and it was the occasion for civil society organisations to look back at these past years and evaluate the progress achieved and the work yet to be done.
Discussions highlighted the increasingly worrying situation faced by Muslim communities in Europe, as pointed by recent reports issued by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and by the European Islamophobia Report 2017, to name but a few. Organisations part of the European coalition against Islamophobia emphasized the imperative need for a group effort to enable tangible progress on the fight against Islamophobia across Europe and is looking forward to strengthened relations and partnerships between its members.
The group discussions also highlighted the need for stronger and more concrete commitment and actions by the European Commission. With the hindsight of these past two years, there is a feeling amongst civil society organisations that there are still some misconceptions by the European institutions with regards to the issue of Islamophobia. With the generalised suspicion against Muslims, it is of utmost importance for EU policy makers not to fall into the trap of treating Muslims as potential problems but rather as human beings whose fundamental rights can be violated. Combatting Islamophobia is not about preventing radicalism or terrorism – which are very important societal issues dealt with under other relevant policy strands – it is about politically addressing structural forms of discrimination and racism affecting Muslims or those perceived as such. Failing to understand this would be counter-productive and further fuel stigmatisation and generalisation about Muslims.
While the issue of Islamophobia has gained more visibility in recent years at EU level and the coalition praises the efforts of the European Commission that helped achieve this, there is a clear need for stronger actions. On the occasion of the 4th roundtable on anti-Muslim hatred, a list of concrete recommendations for actions has been drafted by civil society experts.
Apart from ensuring that combating Islamophobia is mainstreamed in key policy areas, specific policies are needed at national level to address Islamophobia, including its structural dimensions and impact on economic and social outcomes for Muslims. The coalition believes the European Commission and its coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred have the potential to guide Member States towards these policies and materialise recognition into concrete political actions. As such we are looking forward to strengthening close and transparent collaboration with the European commission to reach these objectives which would allow us to achieve a better and more inclusive Europe for all.