Muslims in the EU: City Reports

This new EUMAP project Muslims in the EU: Cities Reports will focus on the situation of Muslims in eleven selected major cities across the EU with significant Muslim populations. It will look in particular at the extent to which local policy addresses their needs and seeks to include them in the policy-making process. In each selected city, monitoring will focus on the following general areas:

  

  • consultation and participation
  • social protection: covering access to social services in general, with a particular focus on housing and healthcare
  • education
  • employment
  • safety and security

More than 20 million Muslims currently reside within the European Union (EU). Citizens and migrants, native born and newly-arrived, they are a growing and varied population that presents Europe with one of its greatest challenges: how to ensure equal rights for all in a climate of rapidly expanding diversity.

Most communities are the result of economic migration in the 1960s and 1970s. More recently, Muslims have arrived as refugees seeking asylum. The economic impetus for the initial phase of migration is reflected in Muslim settlement patterns. Thus, the majority initially settled in the capital cities and in large industrial areas. The concentration of Muslims in these areas ensures that while the overall Muslim population in each state remains low, they are a significant and visible presence in particular cities and neighbourhoods.

The need to develop policies that meet the needs of Muslims in Europe has moved on to the political agenda for a number of reasons:

  • Demographic trends indicate that a significant proportion of the growth in the Europe’s population over the next decade will be within Muslim communities.
  • Government policies must develop and adjust to ensure that they meet the needs of Muslims.
  • There has been growing official acknowledgement of prejudice and discrimination against Muslim communities.Recent studies indicate severe levels of disadvantage experienced by sections of the Muslim communities in the EU; these are among the most impoverished and disadvantaged commnities, suffering from poor levels of educational achievement, employment, income, housing and health.

Muslim community groups and politicians are campaigning for governments to address issues of concern to them.

There has been unprecedented scrutiny and focus on Muslim communities following the attacks Madrid and London, the murder of Theo van Gogh, the riots in France in November 2005.

A preliminary phase of the project was initiated in May 2006 and is now complete. This focused on the selection of the countries and cities that would be a priority to include in the monitoring, as well as refining the project methodology.

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.

EU Report: Muslims Face ‘Islamophobia’

Muslims across Europe are confronting a rise in “Islamophobia” ranging from violent attacks to discrimination in job and housing markets, a wide-ranging European Union report indicated Monday. The study, compiled by the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia, urged European authorities to strengthen policies on integration. But it also noted that Muslims need to do more to counter negative perceptions driven by terrorism and upheavals such as the backlash to cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The 117-page survey details the many divides between the EU mainstream and the estimated 13 million Muslims – now at least 3.5 percent of the 25-nation bloc’s population – and seeks to offer a street-level view of the complexities blocking efforts to bridge the differences. The report urged EU nations to develop more clear legal frameworks for Muslim cultural and religious institutions, including ways to make more public funds available to Islamic community groups and help train local imams. The report also said Europe’s Muslims are “often disproportionately represented” in poor housing conditions, unemployment statistics and in lower education levels.

Muslims are Waging War Against Us, Claims Police Union

Radical Muslims in France’s housing estates are waging an undeclared “intifada” against the police, with violent clashes injuring an average of 14 officers each day. As the interior ministry said that nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded this year, a police union declared that its members were “in a state of civil war” with Muslims in the most depressed “banlieue” estates which are heavily populated by unemployed youths of north African origin. It said the situation was so grave that it had asked the government to provide police with armoured cars to protect officers in the estates, which are becoming no-go zones.

Lies, Myths And Falsehoods: A Day In The Life Of The Bnp’s Stronghold

{Two months after council elections, far-right party says it has launchpad for Westminster} by Steve Boggan LONDON – The man from the BNP breezes up in a white linen suit looking like some latter-day Martin Bell and says: “Can you believe it? Two of our schools are having Muslim days tomorrow – on 7/7! It’s like chucking mud in people’s faces.” Fresh-faced and brimming with enthusiasm, this is Richard Barnbrook, the leader of the second-largest party in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham. In May’s local elections, Mr Barnbrook caused a big political upset by leading a group of BNP candidates to electoral victory in 11 wards. In political terms, it sent a message on immigration that the main parties are still struggling to come to terms with. For the BNP, it was something of a watershed – a foothold in Greater London that the party feels will pave the way for its first foray into the House of Commons. Two months on and there is no sense of shame among the people who voted BNP. It was no spur of the moment decision that was regretted the next day. If anything, there is a sense that the party might do even better next time. What is emerging, however, is that the election success was based on a campaign of misinformation and rumour-mongering on a huge and continuing scale. Housing ? Before the election, the party focused its efforts on promulgating the claim that the borough’s housing stock was being given to people from outside its boundaries, mainly asylum seekers and refugees. Mr Barnbrook and his colleagues also leafleted the electorate, telling them grants of up to _50,000 were being given by nearby Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney to encourage people to move into Barking and Dagenham, thus helping them to buy the cheapest housing stock. It is a claim all three boroughs deny. Hackney’s deputy mayor, Jamie Carswell, said yesterday: “I can say categorically that we do not give, and have never given, grants for people to buy houses in Hackney, Barking and Dagenham or anywhere else. It is an utter fabrication.” Unlike some BNP councillors around the country, Mr Barnbrook, a personable 45-year-old former teacher, takes his new role seriously. We accompany him during an “emergency surgery” at Barking town hall. He describes it as emergency because it is his first since taking office – no schools or community centres have so far allowed the BNP to use their premises. “It’s scandalous,” he says. “We have been democratically elected yet we are not being afforded our democratic rights and privileges. The ruling Labour group haven’t even given us computers that we are entitled to. And we are being denied information when we request it on matters like housing. When I asked for one set of figures, I was told they were on a need-to-know basis, and I didn’t need to know.” The only visitors to the surgery are Sandra, a 43-year-old mother of three, and two of her friends. Sandra is in tears because she is being evicted from rented accommodation as the owner wants it back. The situation has brought her marriage to the brink and one of her daughters is so worried that her hair is falling out. “I asked the council to help house us but I was told to wait until the day the bailiffs come, put our possessions into a van and then, once we’re homeless, to come to the council offices and they’d see what they could do,” she says. “But the worry is killing us.” In fairness to Mr Barnbrook, he does not play the race card, but after the interview, Sandra says: “If I was a refugee or an asylum seeker, you can bet I’d be housed by now. They’re taking up all the council houses, being given grants and furniture while local people go to the back of the queue.” And Mr Barnbrook nods in agreement. In fact, according to Barking and Dagenham, of its 20,250 council homes, just four are occupied by asylum seekers or refugees. “They’re flooding in,” Mr Barnbrook says later. “We checked the additions to the electoral roll and between May and July 5 there were 1,600 new additions and I can’t even begin to pronounce their names. They sound African.” Charles Fairbrass, the council leader, says he is exasperated by the BNP’s continuing claims that outsiders – usually foreigners – are being given housing stock before local people. The council has a policy of putting its residents first. “They are making these claims and whipping up racial tension,” he says. “Often, it is based on the colour of a person’s skin. There is a growing black middle class in London and many of them want to get on the property ladder. Because we have some of the cheapest housing in London, they choose to buy here. And when they buy ex-local authority property, people often assume that those properties are still local authority and they’ve been allowed to jump the queue.” Mr Fairbrass describes BNP council attendance as intermittent and their councillors’ performance as useless. “They have never debated anything or challenged committee reports. We have even set up induction classes for new councillors, but they have hardly attended any.” Mr Barnbrook admits that he and his colleagues are on a steep learning curve but they are taking lessons from more experienced BNP councillors from the north of England. “It’s true we don’t debate with them because there is no point,” he argues. “They make us put all our questions in writing and then the replies we get are pathetic.” Outside the chamber, however, the BNP seems to be winning the battle for many hearts and minds. Before the election the party put out leaflets claiming that burglaries were up 79%, robberies up 80%, violent crime up 61% and that 33% of the borough’s residents were now from minority ethnic groups. The Barking and Dagenham Post checked the figures and found that burglaries were down 11.7%, robberies up by 5%, rapes were down 10.8%, violent crime was up by 1.2% and around 15% of residents were from an ethnic minority. “The problem,” says the Post’s editor, Barry Kirk, “is that people seem to believe them. I don’t believe that the people of Barking and Dagenham are racist, but some of the claims the BNP are making about housing are causing a lot of upset.” Propaganda ? On the streets, the propaganda is working. Tommy Mann, 57, a steel erector, says: “I think the BNP are doing a good job. I didn’t vote for them because I was away, but I will in future. There are just too many immigrants and they all seem to be coming here. Other councils are buying houses here and shipping them in.” Emma Lewis, 18, has a mixed race daughter and does not like the racist element of the BNP, but she, too, says she would be more likely to vote for the party in future because of the housing issue. Her mother, Theresa Barnett, 43, says: “There are so many foreigners – asylum seekers and illegal immigrants – ahead of you when you try to get a council house. Local people just don’t get a fair crack of the whip.” Mr Barnbrook said his party campaigned first on housing, second on crime, third on education and only fourth on immigration. But it is impossible to separate the housing issue from race and that, in turn, fuels more disturbing – if incorrect – rumours. Chuma Mwanakatwe, 29, is shopping with her son, Moses, two and a half. Her husband, Paschal, is a staff nurse at a London hospital. “Someone told us that if they get more power the BNP would like to introduce a system of apartheid – separate schools for blacks and whites,” she says. “And that really scares me.” Backstory The BNP focused its Barking and Dagenham campaign on local concern over housing and changing demographics. It falsely claimed that the council had a secret scheme to give African families _50,000 to buy local houses . Attention on the area intensified after Barking MP Margaret Hodge claimed that eight out of 10 voters in her constituency were thinking of voting for the BNP – a warning widely criticised by Labour organisers who said it gave the party unwarranted credibility . The BNP picked up 11 of the 13 seats it contested and became the second biggest group on the council. Nationally the party gained 32 councillors i
n May.

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.”

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.