Study for EU’s fundamental rights agency finds 30% say they have been insulted and 2% physically assaulted in past 12 months
Discrimination against Europe’s Muslims is increasing, with two in five (40%) saying they have faced unfair treatment when job- or house-hunting or accessing public services such as education or healthcare, according to the first report of its kind in a decade.
Nearly 30% of respondents in a survey said they had been insulted or called names and 2% had been physically assaulted in the previous 12 months.
The survey was carried out in late 2015 and early 2016 by the EU’s fundamental rights agency and involved 10,500 Muslims in 15 countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
Most of those who had been treated unfairly in the five years before the survey said they felt it was because of their name, skin colour or appearance. About 17% said they felt discriminated against directly because of their religious belief – a seven-point increase on the previous survey, in 2008.
Nearly 40% of women who wore a headscarf or niqab in public felt that was why they had faced discrimination when applying for a job. More than 30% of women wearing traditional or religious clothing said they had been harassed, most often through offensive gestures or comments.
Only 12% of all Muslims who experienced discrimination, and 9% of those who faced harassment, said they had bothered to report it. The survey found that 47% of men who had been stopped by the police said they felt it was because they were wearing traditional clothing.
The agency’s head, Michael O’Flaherty, said: “Every incident of discrimination and hate crime hampers inclusion and reduces the chances of finding employment. We risk alienating individuals and their communities with potentially perilous consequences.”
The report comes at a time of heightened tensions fuelled by the 2o15-16 migration crisis, a string of terror attacks and the rise of openly anti-Islam parties in France, the Netherlands and Germany.
The report says Europe’s Muslims, who make up about 4% of the continent’s population, retainan above-average level of trust in institutions such as the police and legal system of their country.
A large majority, 78%, said they had a “strong attachment” to their country of residence and felt broadly integrated into their communities, and 92% said they felt comfortable living next to neighbours of a different religious background.