Why is the Commission taking action?
Reports from international and civil society organisations and recent surveys point to persistent intolerance and racism against Muslims in the EU, as well as to structural forms of discrimination (e.g. in access to employment or education) directed against individuals, women in particular, with a Muslim background.
Published on 21 September 2017, the Muslims – Selected findings specific focus of the Fundamental Rights Agency's wider EU-MIDIS II survey provides important EU-wide data on the discrimination experienced by persons with a Muslim background in different areas of life (labour market, education, housing, health and other services), criminal victimization (including hate crime), police stops, social inclusion and societal participation. Taken together, the survey findings provide key data to support a wide range of measures in the areas of integration and non-discrimination.
The Commission's Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred
In 2015, the Commission created the position of the Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred. The Coordinator works to ensure a robust and holistic response across the Commission services: fighting anti-Muslim hatred requires efforts and funds in the area of teaching and education, in the area of integration and social inclusion policies, in the areas of employment and non-discrimination. The Coordinator is the main point of contact for organisations in the EU working against racism and anti-Muslim hatred. The previous Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred ended his assignment in July 2021. Awaiting his replacement, any matter related to the Coordinator may be referred to EC-COORDINATOR-COMBATING-ANTI-MUSLIM-HATRED@ec.europa.eu.
All the information about the activities of the Coordinator are available here.
Data, tools and resources
2021 Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief on “Countering Islamophobia/Anti-Muslim Hatred to Eliminate Discrimination and Intolerance Based on Religion or Belief”
ODIHR Hate Crime Data
Facing Facts online course on Understanding & Identifying Anti-Muslim Hate crime
Legal and policy framework
The EU has very clear rules, in particular the 2008 Framework Decision on combating certain forms of expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law, prohibiting public incitement to violence or hatred based on race, colour, ethnicity and religion. All EU Member States had to implement these rules into their national criminal laws. This means that those who preach hate or call for violence, based on anti-Muslim prejudice, can be brought to justice by national authorities.
In addition, relevant pieces of EU legislation to combat racism, discrimination and other kinds of intolerance include:
- the Victims Rights Directive which establishes minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of all victims of crime, paying particular attention to victims who have suffered a crime committed with a bias or discriminatory motive
- the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, banning incitement to hatred in audiovisual media services and the promotion of discrimination in audiovisual commercial communications
- legislation in the area of non-discrimination, in particular the Race Equality Directive prohibiting discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin in several walks of life, and the Employment Equality Directive prohibiting discrimination on several grounds in the field of employment
- legislation prohibiting discrimination during border controls
Having a clear set of rules is important, but it is not enough. What is needed is an ambitious policy against racism and intolerance, which cuts across sectors, and linking anti-racism measures to anti-discrimination. A policy, which is based on better training, reporting and awareness campaigns. For instance training for police officers on racist and xenophobic bias motivations; better support to victims which also fosters reporting; measures in other areas, such as education, to promote values of equality, inclusion and diversity.
On 14 June 2016, the European Commission launched the High Level Group on combating Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of Intolerance to step up cooperation and coordination, to better prevent and combat hate crime and hate speech. It brings together all 27 EU Member States, international organisations and civil society organisations. The Commission asked the EU Fundamental Rights Agency to coordinate a Sub-group that will work to develop methodologies for recording and collecting data on hate crime.
The Commission together with major social media platforms agreed on 31 May 2016 on a Code of conduct to fight illegal hate speech online, including hate speech against Muslims. By signing up to the Code, the platforms commit to review the majority of valid notifications in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content, if necessary. Progress is regularly reported in the context of the High Level group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance. In the recent evaluations of the Code, hate speech targeting Muslims features as the most frequently reported ground of hatred online.