Muslim Population Experiences Discrimination

The European Union Monitoring Center for Racism and Xenophobia made public, on the 18th of December, a report on Islamophobia in the countries of the EU. It is the first time that this organization has published a study on the population of Islamic origin, estimated at 13 million, or 3.5% of the EU population. This study did not take into account people’s relation to Islam, or their relgious practice, but concluded that the population that is considered “Muslim” experienced discrimination in the workplace, the educational system, and housing. In the countries of the EU, the level of unemployment of “Muslims” is higher than the national average.

Muslims in Western Europe After 9/11

The principal aim of this report is to highlight the multi-layered levels of discrimination encountered by Muslims. This phenomenon cannot simply be subsumed into the term Islamophobia. Indeed, the term can be misleading, as it presupposes the pre-eminence of religious discrimination when other forms of discrimination (such as racial or class) may be more relevant. We therefore intend to use the term Islamophobia as a starting point for analyzing the different dimensions that define the political situation of Muslim minorities in Europe. We will not to take the term for granted by assigning it only one meaning, such as anti-Islamic discourse.

The report is part of WP: Securitization and Religious Divides in Europe

Arab American, Muslim Groups Disturbed By Ports Security Rhetoric

By DEEPTI HAJELA NEW YORK — The political piling-on over a state-owned Arab business’ plan to run some American ports is causing concern among Arab American and Muslim American groups, which say the furor is fueled by racism and bigotry. “We’re very concerned about the level of rhetoric and the way that there seems to be the assumption that because a company is Arab it can’t be trusted with our security,” said Katherine Abbadi, executive director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of New York.

Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia

The report has four principal parts: first, it presents a broad overview of the situation of Islam in Europe, including some of the recent debates that have sparked many manifestations of discrimiation and Islamophobia, including the debate over the cartoons of the Prophet in Denmark and the headscarf controversies in multiple European countries.

This section offers some basic demographic information and touches on the education, employment, and housing situations for Muslims in many European nations.

Secondly, the report catalogues manifestations of Islamophobia in the EU nations, with a focus on violent or criminal acts towards Muslims.

Thirdly, there is an examination of official government initiatives in the EU member states that are intended to address racism, discrimination and Islamophobia, and finally there is an examination of faith-based or community-based efforts to combat discrimination and Islamophobia.

The report concludes by offering a series of opinions on the most urgent and most helpful steps that the member countries and the EU as a whole could take to ameliorate the manifestations and effects of discrimination and Islamophobia.

Key findings of the report:

While there is a paucity of data on discriminatory or Islamophobic incidents, and such incidents are undoubtedly vastly under-reported, the EUMC report combined official and unofficial sources to come up with the following information, all for the year 2004 unles noted:

In Denmark there were 14 recorded Islamophobic incidents.

In Germany there were 21 recorded Islamophobic incidents.

In Greece there were 4 recorded Islamophobic incidents.

In Spain there were 27 recorded Islamophobic incidents, many of which were connected explicitly or implicitly to the March 2004 Madrid bombings.

In France there were 131 recorded Islamophobic incidents. France is one of the few EU countries that has an official process for recording such incidents, which certainly impacts their tally in comparison to the other counries’.

In Ireland there were 14 recorded Islamophobic incidents.

In Italy there were 7 recorded Islamophobic incidents, one involving the detention of 161 Muslim individuals by the Italian police.

In Denmark, in the month of November 2004 alone, 106 Islamophobic incidents were recorded, this directly following the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh.

In Austria, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Finland, and Sweden, there is very little data on Islamophobic attacks or incidents. The report does cite some examples, and makes use of data organized by country of origin. Such data, however, does not tell us whether the victims were Muslim or, even if they were, whether the incidents were Islamophobic in nature.

In the United Kingdom, the Crown Police collect data on “faith hate” incidents. Such incidents averaged 10-12 per week throughout 2004, and were at markedly higher numbers in the summer of 2005, immediately following the July 7 bombings.

Such data is clearly incomplete, but it serves to present a sample of the wide variety of violent and/or threatening treatment that is dealt out to Muslims or individuals perceived to be Muslim in the EU member countries.

Conclusions of the report:

“Muslims in the Member States of the European Union experience various levels of discrimination and marginalisation in employment, education and housing, and are also the victims of negative stereotyping by majority populations and the media. In addition, they are vulnerable to manifestations of prejudice and hatred in the form of anything from verbal threats through to physical attacks on people and property.

Discrimination against Muslims can be attributed toIslamophobic attitudes, as much as to racist and xenophobic resentment, as these elements are in many cases inextricably intertwined. Racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia become mutually reinforcing phenomena and hostility against Muslims should also be seen in the context of a more general climate of hostility towards migrants and minorities.

Yet, given this situation, the true extent and nature of discrimination and Islamophobic incidents against Muslim communities remains severely under-reported and under- documented in the EU. There is a serious lack of data or official information on, first, the social situation of Muslims in Member States and, second, on the extent and nature of Islamophobic incidents.

As a reflection of this, policy makers are not well informed at both national and EU level about the specific situation of Muslims in the areas of employment, education and housing, as well as about the extent and nature of discrimination, incidents and threats targeted at Muslims.

The EUMC finds that Member States need to develop, reinforce and evaluate policies aimed at delivering equality and non-discrimination for Muslim communities, particularly in the fields of employment, education and access to goods and services. In this regard, monitoring and data collection are an indispensable tool to inform effective policy development.

The EUMC believes that measures and practices which tackle discrimination, address social marginalisation and promote inclusiveness should be integrated policy priorities. In particular, the EUMC finds that accessibility to education as well as equal opportunities in employment need consideration. Access to housing and participation in civic processes are further key issues to be tackled, particularly at the local and regional level. The EUMC encourages positive action initiatives to create an enabling environment for Europe’s diverse Muslim communities to participate fully in mainstream society.

The EUMC welcomes Community initiatives to enhance co-ordination and exchange of good practices with regards to integration policies at national and local level, as outlined in the European Commission’s Communication “Common Agenda for Integration Framework for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals in the European Union”. The Common Basic Principles on Integration (CBPs), adopted by the European Council in November 2004, recognise that participation and equality are fundamental for better integration and a more cohesive society.

The EUMC welcomes the growing awareness of discrimination against Muslims and manifestations of Islamophobia in Member States, as well as the development of positive initiatives, some of which are highlighted in this report. The analysis of the available data and information, however, pointed to a number of areas where further initiatives could be taken including legislation, employment, education, the role of the media and the support of civil society. In addition, the EUMC is of the opinion that Member States should introduce or make use of existing legislative and/or administrative provisions for positive action.

On this basis and according to its role under Article 2 (e) of its founding Regulation to “formulate conclusions and opinions for the Community and its Member States”, the EUMC proposes a number of opinions within a general framework of measures against racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, Islamophobia and related intolerances. The opinions are listed at the end of this report.”

Metro Arabs Don’t Feel France’s Alienation, Discrimination Here

BY NIRAJ WARIKOO, FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER Abed Hammoud had an OK life in France. After graduating with an engineering degree from a top university in Lyon, the Arab immigrant secured a job at a heating and cooling company. But despite his achievements, Hammoud sensed he would never be considered French. At work, he said, he was referred to as “the Lebanese guy.” His Arab friends struggled to find work. And Hammoud saw how hard it was for people like him to enter politics and start businesses. So in 1990, he left France for the United States. In just over a decade, the Dearborn resident earned master’s degrees in law and business, became a Wayne County assistant prosecutor and emerged as an activist recognized nationwide for politically organizing Arab Americans. “It’s easier here,” said Hammoud, a 39-year-old married father of two sons. “People are more open. … In France, you’re never considered French” if you’re of Arab descent. That sense of alienation among France’s large Arab and Muslim populations — among the largest in Europe — may help explain the outbreak of violence this month that resulted in thousands of torched cars and a lingering unease that the country had failed its minority communities. That violence, coupled with last summer’s suicide attacks in London, has raised the question: Can Arabs and Muslims integrate into Western countries? Arab Americans say their success proves that they can. Indeed, across metro Detroit, many have found success in a number of fields — a marked contrast to the high unemployment and unrest that pervades much of Europe’s Arab and Muslim communities. […]

Muslims Sue, Alleging Discrimination

Families in Anaheim apartments say they are victims of religious and housing bias. Manager calls it just a landlord-tenant dispute. By David Reyes, Times Staff Writer Seven Muslim families filed a lawsuit Friday alleging religious and housing discrimination at an Anaheim apartment complex. The suit alleges that the owner and the manager of Chaumont Villas refused to make repairs to apartments, don’t allow Muslim children to play in public areas and have harassed Muslim families because of their faith. The suit was announced at a news conference in front of the complex at 1600 W. Broadway, attended by several tenants and representatives of the Southern California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The suit was filed in Orange County Superior Court on behalf of Tawfiq M. Mousa, Mustafa A. Suleiman, Waleed M. Abdullah, Jamal Almasri, Mohammed Wali Hakami, Abdullah T. Assaf and Issam H. Wahby. Listed as defendants were property management firm Swami International, businessman Ram K. Mittal, and corporations DKM Investments and RKM Investments. “This is nothing more than a landlord-tenant dispute,” said Pat Mitchell, a vice president for Swami, located in Rolling Hills Estates. Mousa said he, his wife and three children had lived three years in their $1,450-a-month, 3-bedroom unit with no problems until a new manager arrived at the complex a year ago. “Since then, there’s been a pattern of harassment against Muslims renting here,” said Mousa, 43, an engineer. Manager Bridgett Phillips yelled at Muslim children and chased them from common areas, and frequently referred to Muslim tenants with profanity, the suit alleges. Phillips, named as a defendant, could not be reached for comment. In June, the dispute escalated when Mousa circulated a petition seeking a new manager and asking for repairs to units, including fixing rusted plumbing and peeling paint. It was signed by two dozen Muslim and non-Muslim tenants at the 61-unit complex. “That’s when I was handed a 60-day eviction notice,” he said. But Mitchell said Mousa was evicted for causing friction between Muslim tenants and the apartment manager and said Mousa followed Phillips around the complex snapping her picture. “He has been harassing the manager and not allowing her to do her job,” Mitchell said. “We can’t have somebody creating a hostile environment.” Although Southern California is home to an estimated 500,000 Muslims, it’s a population that doesn’t file many housing complaints, said Connie Der Torossian, a spokeswoman for the Fair Housing Council of Orange County. “It’s a hard population to reach and similar to some of the ethnic minorities like Vietnamese,” Der Torossian said. “They’re afraid to make complaints out of fear of retaliation.” According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 27 cases of religious discrimination were filed statewide in the year ending Sept. 1. Of those, five were brought by Muslims. Of the seven families that are plaintiffs in the suit, two have moved out of Chaumont Villas after they sought larger apartments there but were told none were available, said their attorney, Federico C. Sayre. The apartments were then rented to non-Muslims, the suit alleges.

‘Muslims In Britain Won’t Face Police Discrimination’

LONDON – Muslims in Britain will not suffer discrimination at the hands of the police in the wake of the London bombings, Home Office minister Hazel Blears said on Tuesday. Counter-terrorism powers are not targeting any community in particular, but are targeting terrorists, said Blears during a day of talks with Muslim community leaders in northwest England. That is why they have got to be intelligence-led and used proportionally, fairly, and in a non-discriminatory way. Blears travelled to Oldham, a mill town near Manchester with a large Muslim community of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, on a bridge-building mission nearly a month after the July 7 attacks on London’s transport system killed 56 people including four suicide bombers. Her message followed the admission by British Transport Police that its officers would carry out anti-terrorist spot-checks on minority groups, rather than waste time searching old white ladies. The specialised force polices London’s Underground subway — the target of three of the four July 7 bombings, plus as many attempted bombings two weeks later — as well as the national rail network. Blears, echoing a message issued by Prime Minister Tony Blair, said the 1.6 million strong Muslim community in Britain could play a vital role in tackling terrorism. These people who are extremists are a tiny, tiny minority, said the junior minister, in charge of public security while Home Secretary Charles Clarke is away on a summer break. We have got to make sure that the mainstream feel strong enough to take them on, and as a government we will work with them to do that, she said. These people are criminals, they are terrorists, they are extremists, but they are seeking to justify what they do in a perverted interpretation of Islam. What we have discussed today is the need to teach the true nature of Islam, which is about peace and love.

Post-9/11 Workplace Discrimination Continues

By Stephanie Armour, USA TODAY Nearly four years after the terrorist attacks, Muslim, South Asian and Arab-American employees continue to report discrimination on the job. Compared with the first two years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the number of employees saying they’ve been discriminated against as a form of backlash because of the attacks has declined. But charges continue to come in, indicating that Arab-American and other workers still feel discriminated against. “People are being called ‘terrorist’ at work, things of that sort,” says Arsalan Iftikhar, national legal director at Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “A lot of cases continue to go on. People have been called Osama bin Laden, told they are going to mosque to learn how to build a bomb.” Nearly 280 claims of discrimination in the workplace were received by CAIR in 2004, and the workplace was the second-most-common location for an alleged incident. The first was government agencies. At the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, about 980 charges alleging post-9/11 backlash discrimination have been filed through June 11 since the 2001 attacks. Most involved firing and alleged harassment; the EEOC specifically tracks “backlash” cases, where employees claim discrimination relating to 9/11. Likewise, religious bias charges are higher today than before 9/11. From Sept. 11, 2001, through June 11, the EEOC received 2,168 charges of discrimination based on an employee’s Muslim religion. That compares with 1,104 such charges in the same time span before the attacks. The agency has obtained more than $4.2 million on behalf of employees alleging post-9/11 backlash. The EEOC has filed lawsuits against employers such as MBNA America Bank, the Plaza hotel in New York, Alamo Rent A Car and construction giant Bechtel. Some Recent Eeoc Cases: – A lawsuit alleging the New York Plaza hotel and Fairmont Hotel Management discriminated against Muslim, Arab and South Asian employees was settled last month for $525,000. A 2001 lawsuit claimed that Plaza employees were called “terrorist,” “Taliban” and “dumb Muslim.” It also alleges that managers wrote “Osama” and “Taliban” instead of employees’ names on key holders. Fairmont Hotel Management managed the hotel, which has since been sold. “As a company, we are committed to providing a work environment free of discrimination or harassment,” says Carolyn Clark, senior vice president of human resources at Fairmont, in Toronto. – In March, upscale seafood restaurant Pesce agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging bias against the store’s general manager. According to the lawsuit, a former co-owner openly speculated that the manager’s Egyptian name and appearance were the reasons Pesce had seen earnings drop in the months after 9/11. The manager was fired. Pesce, which has since been sold to new owners, declined to comment. – The EEOC filed a lawsuit last year against an MBNA subsidiary in Philadelphia claiming in part that offensive comments were made to Indian and black employees after 9/11, including an Indian employee who was called “Osama bin Laden.” The case is pending. MBNA says there is no merit to the claim.

Muslim Converts Face Discrimination

By ANDREA ELLIOTT In the wake of 9/11, Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Egypt and other countries have found themselves living in a newly suspicious America. Many of their businesses and mosques have been closely monitored by federal agents, thousands of men have been deported and some have simply been swept away – “rendered” in the language of the C.I.A. – to be interrogated or jailed overseas. But Muslim immigrants are not alone in experiencing the change. It is now touching the lives of some American converts: men and women raised in this country, whose only tie to the Middle East or Southeast Asia is one of faith. Khalid Hakim, born Charles Karolik in Milwaukee, could not renew the document required to work as a merchant mariner because he refused to remove his kufi, a round knitted cap, for an identity photograph last year. Yet for nearly three decades Mr. Hakim’s cap had posed no problem with the same New York City office of the Coast Guard. In Brooklyn, Dierdre Small and Stephanie Lewis drove New York City Transit buses for years wearing their hijabs, or head scarves, with no protest from supervisors. After 9/11 the women were ordered to remove the religious garments. They refused, and were transferred, along with two other Muslim converts, out of the public eye – to jobs vacuuming, cleaning and parking buses, said the women, who are suing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit. “I’m a U.S. citizen and I’m supposed to be protected,” Ms. Lewis, 55, said with tears in her eyes. “On 9/11 I was scheduled to take policemen to that site. I felt compassion like everyone else. And now you’re singling me out because I’m a Muslim?” New York City Transit officials said they would not comment because the case is in litigation. Regardless of how their cases play out legally, Mr. Hakim, Ms. Lewis and other converts have come to view America after 9/11 through a singular lens. An estimated 25 percent of American Muslims are converts. Some came of age as Americans first and discovered Islam as adults.