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Petra Bayr: ‘anti-Muslim racism endangers its direct targets, but also other minority groups and society as a whole’

On the eve of the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, Petra Bayr (Austria, SOC), General Rapporteur on combating racism and intolerance, made the following statement:

On 15 March 2019, 51 Muslim people were killed and 40 injured in mass shootings perpetrated in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a white supremacist terrorist. This year, we are marking that date with the first international day of solidarity with the victims of anti-Muslim hatred and intolerance.

In Europe, Muslim people face increasing intolerance and stereotyping and are the targets of misinformation and stigmatisation. This anti-Muslim hatred should never be underestimated and must always be challenged and combated. It leads to marginalisation and discrimination, including in access to education, employment and housing, as well as to hate crime.

Like other forms of prejudice, anti-Muslim racism is often rooted in xenophobic, hate-filled ideologies and disseminated through hate speech, especially online. Far right and populist political forces typically utilise it for cheap electoral gain. It is of the utmost importance for democratic political parties to refrain from falling into the trap of using stigmatising language which target Muslims or other groups in society, and to condemn such language when used by others in the political sphere. For anti-Muslim racism not only endangers its direct targets, but also all other minority groups, and through them society as a whole.

On this international day, I call on all parliaments and other authorities in Council of Europe member States to step up their efforts to protect Muslim people from all forms of discrimination and to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive society for everyone, irrespective of their origin and beliefs.