About 7% of entrepreneurs in Belgium are not citizens of the country. In Brussels, the figure jumps to 27%, and in Antwerp, the figure stands at about 15%, making the city the most attractive to immigrant entrepreneurs in Flanders. This data comes from the Unizo organization, with data available from the national service for social security and self-employment, from the end of 2006. According to Unizo, there are 62,246 foreign entrepreneurs in Belgium, comprising 7% of the recorded total 880,662 entrepreneurs in Belgium.
A program to get the young and unemployed to work has produced positive results. The daily _De Standard’ reports that the number of youth under 26 that are looking for work has fallen by 39% since the Youth Unemployment Plan was launched two years ago. The Youth Unemployment plan was brought in two years ago to tackle the problem of youth unemployment in Flanders. Among major cities and towns in Flanders, employment among ethnic minority youth fell by 38%.
A new poll released by the EU placed Belgium third among twenty-five countries in helping immigrants settle in. The study examines various factors including employment rights, anti-racism laws, and the possibility of permanent residents and family reunification.
The employment agency Randstad reports that 60% of workers in Belgium do not approve of wearing a headscarf or other religious symbol to work, citing its inappropriateness. The study also includes a large, but lesser disapproval of piercings, tattoos, and other displays.
Senators announced on Thursday that they had reached an agreement on immigration reform that would constitute the biggest change in immigration law and policy in over 20 years. The bill would strengthen border patrol while creating a path toward legalization for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States. Permission to immigrate would be granted to candidates according to a merit-based point system that rewards job skills, education and English language proficiency. The employment-based system is a deviation from the current family-based immigration policy. Proponents claim that family ties will continue to be honored as individuals with relatives within the U.S. would be favored over those without. Critics argue that close family members will continue to be separated because of the proposed policy.
Executive summary: This report on racism and xenophobia in the EU is the first to be published since the creation of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on 1 March 2007, following the extension of the mandate of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC). This report, although published by the FRA, is not the FRA Annual Report. It is a report which was produced on the basis of the EUMC legal base and mandate. It covers information and developments on racism and xenophobia in the EU for the year 2006, in the thematic areas of legal issues, employment, housing, education, and racist violence and crime. In addition, there is a final chapter covering developments and policies at the EU level in combating racism and xenophobia.
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.”