The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe warns of the escalating wave of attacks on Muslims, mosques, and Islamic centres in European countries, which has reaching quite unprecedented levels.
From the second half of 2014, the Federation has observed a sharp rise in the incidents of physical and verbal abuse against Muslims in several European countries. It was also significant that some of these attacks and abuse have specifically targeted Muslim women and girls in public roads, parks and spaces, as well as public transport. In addition, the number of attacks and vandalism against mosques and Islamic centres have risen significantly; indeed, some incendiary attacks have almost led to certain disaster as they have occurred during times of congregation prayers. Moreover, it is suspected that some crimes of murder, or attempted murder, have taken place on the backdrop of hate against Muslims.
A cause for greater concern, is that such attacks have risen to new highs, since the beginnings of 2015, to include more mosques, Islamic centres, and property belonging to Muslims in several European countries. The acts of arson, destruction of property, defamatory drawings and threatening slogans painted on facades, racist writings hostile to Islam and Muslims, as well as abusing the Islamic religion and sanctities in diverse ways, including throwing the heads of slaughtered pigs into prayer areas.
The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe, as it strongly condemns these attacks, acts of intimidation, incitement, and abuse, calls for robust action to confront this fever of hate and assault targeting Muslims and places of worship; these represent quite grave violations that cannot be ignored, or justified. These serious and heinous acts seek to intimidate, spread hostility, and undermine the values of society, as well as debasing the dignity of those targeted, provoking them in their beliefs, and restricting them in their daily lives.
The Federation of Islamic organisations in Europe also warns of the growing racist calls against Muslims, in the public sphere, and on social networks, taking the form of inciting and provocative slogans against partners in society and citizenship. The Federation notes how these calls and provocations have then manifested in multiple forms of hostile and discriminatory acts against Muslims, and their religious, cultural, and social infrastructure. These calls, embraced by various parties, groups, and movements, have then evolved into new trends of defamation that are contrary to common values, fundamental rights and liberties, and constitutional principles, and aim to isolate Muslims from their European societies, repress their interaction in public life, and indeed seeks to reshape societies, where citizens are not all equal, nor are the opportunities available to all of them, and where the constituents are not in cohesion in dealing with shared challenges.
The Federation reminds authorities of their responsibility to protect Muslim citizens, mosques, and Islamic centres from assault in any form, and that it is the duty of law enforcement agencies to pursue the perpetrators within the criminal justice system. The Federation also calls attention to the responsibility of governments, political parties, civil society, religious leaders, and the media, in confronting this fever of hate, and incitement that threaten social cohesion.
The Federation draws attention to the need for commentators, and the media, to be responsible and sensitive in addressing the different security developments. It is quite concerning, that some published covers, reports, media coverage, commentaries, and cartoons, give the impression that Muslims or their religion are responsible for terrorist attacks or crimes. This implicitly indicates a generalisation of suspicion, or even a hidden call to incitement.
The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe applauds the self-restraint displayed by local Muslim communities and organisations, and the care taken in not allowing the opportunity for these attempts to defame and provoke to be successful. The Federation urges the proper recording of these attacks, and reporting to the relevant authorities, rights organisations, and the media, as well as developing the efforts in dealing with these challenges through the instruments of raising awareness, engagement and civil society.
The Federation also values the responses of some governments, and the solidarity expressed by officials, citizens, and religious and societal institutions in some countries and cities, with those mosques and Islamic centres targeted in these attacks. The Federation urges the further development of these positions, because social cohesion and unity is the best response to those inciting hatred, and are hostile to shared values. This wave of attacks, inflammatory calls, and acts of defamation are a threat to society as a whole, and not just the Muslims, and hence must be renounced, while warning of these converting into the status quo, where they become normal practice.
Brussels, 26 February 2015
The Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE)