COVID-19 pandemic deepens online Islamophobia in Europe

COVID-19 pandemic deepens online Islamophobia in Europe

2020 saw a rise in online Islamophobia as COVID-19 lockdowns were imposed and daily life shut down across Europe, according to a report.
The report called “European Islamophobia Report 2020” was prepared by Enes Bayrakli, an international relations professor at Istanbul-based Turkish-German University, and Farid Hafez, a political scientist from Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative.
The report included 37 academics, experts, civil society activists’ contributions to the coverage of 31 European countries.
According to the report, the COVID-19 epidemic, which severely affected Europe in 2020, had different effects on Islamophobia.
“In some countries, with the forced retreat of everyday life to the intimate private sphere, physical Islamophobia has decreased. Yet, at the same time, Islamophobia has moved to the private sphere and is being spread especially in social media.”
This report underlines, “The overwhelming majority of European states do not record Islamophobic incidents as a separate category of hate crime. The recording of anti-Muslim/Islamophobic crimes by the police as a separate category of hate crime is essential to uncover the real extent of this problem and to develop counter-strategies to combat it.”
This report also says in the EU, only 12% of Muslims who have been discriminated against report their cases to the authorities.
It also shares statistics for the previous years as well as for 2020. Accordingly, the situation in European countries was as follows:

Austria and the Czech Republic
A total of 812 anti-Muslim hate crimes were documented in Austria in 2020. This figure is over double the number of 2019 with 385 cases.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the number of online hate crimes rose. In comparison, 3,215 cases were documented in 2020, 1,822 digital hate messages in 2019. Of these cases, 144 had anti-Muslim content.
A total of seven incidents related to anti-Muslim prejudice were recorded by a human rights organization in the Czech Republic.

A total of 901 Islamophobic crimes were registered by the Federal Criminal Police Office in Germany in 2020.
In the country, 18 anti-Islam demonstrations were held, 16 of which were organized by the racist PEGIDA movement in the same year.
In 2019, a total of 31,472 extremist crimes with a political background were recorded in the country. Compared to the previous year, such crimes increased by 13.8%. In total, 21,290 of these crimes were committed by right-wing extremists. Extremist violent crimes decreased by 13.7% to 925 in 2019.
Of the 8,585 hate crimes in Germany, 2,032 were recorded as anti-Semitic and 950 as Islamophobic crimes.
In 2019, 3,703 crimes were detected in the “anti-foreigner” crime category. Of these, 506 were violent offenses.

235 Islamophobic cases were recorded in France in 2020. This number was 154 in 2019. There was a 14 % increase in anti-Islamic actions and a 79% increase in threats.
According to the latest study by the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, crimes committed with racial motives rose by 11% in 2019. There was a 54% increase in Islamophobic acts.
In the organization’s research called “the Collective against Islamophobia in France,” Islamophobia increased in the country in 2019, and 800 actions were recorded in this context. Islamophobic actions increased by 77 % in two years by 2020.
It was reported that the organization could not publish data for 2020 as it was targeted and shut down by the government.

Belgium, the Netherlands
According to the statistics published in 2020 in Belgium, 90.6% of recorded Islamophobic cases pertaining to individuals were enacted against women in the preceding year. This is up from 75% of all victims being female in 2018.
26.3% of Islamophobic cases were related to employment. 48% of Islamophobic cases were recorded in the capital Brussels, 23% in Wallonia, and 4% in Flanders.
According to reports in the Netherlands, people with a migration background, mainly Turkish and Moroccan, and Muslims, face relatively high discrimination.
It is stated that these people feel strongly stigmatized, discriminated, and excluded, to the extent of people retreating from society, losing their faith in institutions or simply giving up when it comes to education or finding a job.

Statistics show that Muslim women experience discrimination in their labor force participation in Denmark. It is determined that Muslim women who wear a hijab have to send %60 more job applications than white Danish women.
Also, minority ethnic women have to make 18% more job applications than white Danish women.
Hate crimes in Finland decreased by 1.2% to 899 cases in 2019.
In the previous year, this number was 910 cases. On the other hand, the number of ethnic agitation cases rose to 105 from 34. As in previous years, the majority of the victims in these incidents were Muslims.
72% of the hate crimes recorded in Finland were related to the person’s ethnic background and 14% were related to their religious background. Somalis, Iraqis, and Turks suffered the most from these attacks, respectively.

In 2019, hate crimes increased by 6.8% compared to the previous year in the country.
A total of 1,706 complaints were made over hate crimes. Of these, 66 were related to religion, and 515 to racism and xenophobia. No segregated statistics for anti-Muslim bias are available.

The UK, Ireland
In the wake of the first UK lockdown, religiously aggravated hate crimes rose by more than a third in comparison to the same period in 2019.
Muslims and their families are four times more likely to experience hate crime than Christians.
According to Hope Not Hate, over half of the ruling Conservative party’s members think of Islam in negative or very negative terms; nearly half consider Islam a threat to British society.
In 2019, Muslims experienced 14% of reported crime cases, 14% of discrimination cases and were also targeted in hate speech on 45 reported occasions in Ireland.

Lithuania, Poland
In 2020, a total of 47 criminal offenses against a Person’s Equal Rights and Freedom of Conscience were registered in Lithuania.
In Poland, in the same year, 557 procedures in hate crimes cases were initiated by the police. In 14 of the incidents, Muslims were targeted. In 44 cases the targeted ethnicity might have been linked to Islam, such as Arabs and Turks.


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