Muslims in Sweden ‘particularly at risk of discrimination’: report

Discrimination in Sweden is a “widespread issue affecting all areas of Swedish society”, according to a new report by the country’s Discrimination Ombudsman, with Muslims and people with ‘visible’ ethnicity particularly vulnerable.

The report, written in English, is titled ‘The state of discrimination 2023’ and is the first yearly report published by the Discrimination Ombudsman (DO) on discrimination in Sweden.

Although discrimination can affect everyone, the report shows that the risk of experiencing discrimination is larger for some individuals and some groups of individuals depending on their individual situation and their role in society. 

It states, for example, that many children with neurological disabilities experience discrimination in school, through not being offered the support and accommodations necessary for them to achieve their academic potential.

“People who, based on their appearance, can be presumed to belong to a certain ethnicity or religion are subjected to harassment, mistrust and aggression in various contexts, such as people that wear visible signs of a certain ethnicity or religion,” it reads.

Hijabi women are more likely to experience discrimination, and job applicants with names that sound “Arabic or Muslim” are more likely to be discriminated against in recruitment, with men with Arabic or Muslim-sounding names more likely to be discriminated against on the labour market than women with similar names.


Islam is just as European as Christianity

(Note: this article was written in 2015. Sadly, many still remain ignorant of this history).

By Haroon Moghul

“Xenophobic and anti-Muslim” was how the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described Hungary’s treatment of Syrian and other refugees, desperate for safe harbor. Yet Hungary appears unmoved by the fierce international criticism. Prime minister Viktor Orbán has insisted his country doesn’t want Muslims, and a sentiment echoed by members of his party. “We want to decide ourselves how many Muslims we want to live with,” a parliamentarian for the nationalist-conservative Fidesz party declared.

Other Eastern European countries are making similar, if less obviously callous, arguments. Leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, and now Slovenia are hesitant to accept Muslim refugees. Slovakia offered to accept a token 200 refugees, on the condition that they be Christians. As Slovak interior-ministry spokesman Ivan Netik put it, his country lacks mosques, and therefore Muslims would not feel at home.

In all these pronouncements, Islam is represented as foreign to Europe. Even when politicians do talk positively about Islam in Europe, they tend to stick to the large Muslim populations in the United Kingdom, France, or Germany, most of whom arrived relatively recently. If Islam isn’t foreign to Europe, the narrative goes, then it’s new—something it’ll take Europeans (at least those who are practicing Christians) time to get used to.

Hungary would like you to believe Islam is foreign to Europe.

But this is false. Not just because Europe is an idea, and not a physical reality. Not just because nationalisms are imagined, constructed, and selectively edited. Not just because Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, is a Near Eastern religion.

The truth is that Muslims have lived in Europe for centuries. And while Germany and France have the largest Muslim populations of any nation in Europe (unless we’re counting Russia or Turkey), the European Union member with the highest percentage of Muslims is actually Bulgaria.

These are not immigrants.


The divided discourse around Muslims in Britain and Europe

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The last caliph of Islam, Abdulmejid II, was a European-style artist, among whose paintings is a portrait of his wife in a satin dress, high heels and a bob cut, reading a copy of Goethe’s Faust. The caliphate, the symbolic leadership of Sunni Islam abolished in Istanbul in 1924, was really quite different from the febrile imaginings of fringe Islamists seeking to revive it and Islamophobes living in fear of it. The Ottoman caliphs saw themselves not just as figureheads of Islam, but as heirs to the Roman empire; among their regnal titles was “Caesar”.

In the interest of secularism but also in fear of Islamisation, governments across Europe have banned face veils, Switzerland has banned minarets, and even the burkini — a modest swimsuit — is considered by French municipalities too bashful for their beaches. But the more significant historical trend is, rather, the Europeanisation of Islam, already evident in the caliphate and now embracing the mass of Europe’s Muslims who speak the same languages, abide by the same laws and celebrate the same national sporting victories as their fellow non-Muslim citizens.

Yet, the irony about Europe’s discourse around Islam is that the majority of books focus on a minority of Muslims perceived as Islamising their societies, while only a minority of titles focus on what is happening inside the thoroughly Europeanised majority of Muslims on the continent. In the latter camp are two welcome new books by European Muslims — the British lawyer Tawseef Khan and the Turkish thinker Mustafa Akyol — while the prominent British-Muslim think-tanker Ed Husain joins the ranks of polemicists Douglas Murray, Éric Zemmour and Thilo Sarrazin in stoking fears about the admittedly vocal minority of Muslims out of step with Europe’s mainstream.

According to Husain’s travelogue about Muslim Britain, Among the Mosques, British Muslims are gripped by “caliphism”, an ideology that “is anti-Western and seeks to subvert British culture, laws and institutions.” Husain turns up unannounced at the central mosque of 10 cities from London to Glasgow, where he interviews imams, congregants and theology students. In northern mill towns such as Dewsbury and Blackburn, hubs of ultraorthodox Islamic scholarship, he’s troubled by his findings. Women are segregated. Sharia law is favoured. Though no one advocates violence, clerics are evasive about their response to cartoons of Muhammad (within the last year, a teacher in Batley, northern England, was suspended and in France a teacher was murdered for showing such images in lessons on free speech).


Why Did Muslims Become the New Enemy in Norway and Europe?

Posted July 9, 2021 by Katrine Fangen & filed under Culture and ConflictMigrationReligion

Anti-Muslim views have become more widespread in Europe over the past 30 years, but it is important to distinguish between criticisms of certain forms of Islamic practice and the belief that Muslims are taking over Europe.

Mosque in Oslo, Norway. Photo: Oskar Seljeskog / Flickr / CC-BY 2.0

People with anti-Islamic views wish to restrict Muslim immigration and Islamic religious practices. In their view, Islam is a homogenous, totalitarian ideology that is threatening western civilisation. When we talk about anti-Muslim racism, the attitudes concerned are so generalizing that all Muslims are lumped together, regardless of whether they are secular Muslims or fundamentalists. In other words, we are talking not only about criticism of a set of religious ideas, but about attitudes that dehumanize and generalize a whole group in the population.

Although such attitudes have a long history in Europe, the idea that Muslims are ‘the enemy’ has become more widespread over the last 30 years. In the aftermath of the Cold War, one could say that Europe needed a new archetypal enemy, and research shows that Muslim immigrants gradually took on that status. For example, it became gradually more common for people to talk about “Muslims”, rather than immigrants with Pakistani backgrounds.

Events that direct a critical focus onto Muslims

Research from various countries shows increases in anti-Muslim views towards Muslims in connection with various critical events. This does not suggest that anti-Muslim bias is growing in a continuously upwards trend. Rather, it suggests that this bias increases temporarily in connection with societal events that direct a critical focus on Muslims.

In the 1980s, for example, the publication of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses provoked Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa against Rushdie, and many Muslims joined anti-Rushdie demonstrations and tore pages out of his book. In many cases, their demonstrations were met with highly generalizing and critical representations of Muslim in the media, where Islam as a religion was questioned.


‘Some Europeans hold centuries-old grudge against Muslims’

Deep-rooted hatred against Islam persists, says Joram van Klaveren, the former far-right European politician, who was once a close ally of Geert Wilders.

When Brenton Tarrant live-streamed the massacre of Muslims at two mosques in New Zealand, viewers noticed his guns were covered with inscriptions – racial slurs such as ‘Migration Compact’ and ‘Kebab Remover’. One read ‘Vienna 1683’. 

That last one is a reference to the year when the Ottoman Empire fought a bloody war with the Holy League, a Christian European alliance that included Russia. 

Tarrant, 30, who has been imprisoned for life, without any possibility for parole, for the killing of 51 Muslim worshippers in the city of Christchurch on March 15, 2019, was well-versed in white supremacist propaganda.  

He cherry-picked historical events to justify targeting Muslims, who according to him, are migrating in large numbers and have more babies, something that threatens to turn white Europeans into a minority. 

Muslims make up 5 percent of Europe’s population, according to Pew Research. 

“What Tarrant and the others from the far-right do is that they bring these stories out of history, twist them around and use them to scare everybody,” says Joram van Klaveren, a former lawmaker of the anti-Muslim Party for Freedom (PVV) of Netherlands. 

“They don’t say that we in Europe should be thankful to Muslims for algebra, maths and hospitals – the things we borrowed from the Islamic civilisation.” 

Klaveren was a close associate of Geert Wilders, the Freedom party leader, and for years worked as his spokesperson on Islam. He once submitted a bill in the Netherlands parliament that called for a ban on Islam because it permits violence against women. 


Bestselling new book tells story of Europe’s forgotten Muslims


February 19

  • “Minarets in the Mountains” highlights continent’s “indigenous Muslim heritage,” Hussain said
  • It is among Amazon’s bestselling travel books on pre-sales alone

LONDON: “Minarets in the Mountains” traces the roots of Europe’s little-known native Muslim populations, and in telling their story cuts to the heart of what it means to be a European and a Muslim in the 21st century.
Acclaimed travel writer Tharik Hussain made a name for himself covering Saudi Arabia’s hidden touristic treasures and tracing Britain’s ancient Islamic heritage, but his latest book tells a very different story.

He told Arab News that his new book is the very human tale of his family holiday across the Balkans — a fun and light-hearted trip taken with his wife and children, but one that prompts readers to contemplate and confront longstanding myths about European and Muslim identity, and the relationship between the two.

“I wanted to bring to the attention of the mainstream the idea that Europe has an indigenous Muslim heritage,” Hussain said.
He and his family toured Serbia, Croatia, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Kosovo, meeting locals and exploring the roots of Muslim populations that date back centuries.

But unlike his previous European trips, such as to the south of Spain to write about the long-lost Islamic civilization of what was then called Al-Andalus, this trip was very different — it explored a Muslim culture “that’s alive and thriving today,” Hussain said.


Europe’s Muslims are European. Stop outsourcing their plight to foreign leaders

Özlem Türeci, one of the German scientists behind the Covid vaccine breakthrough, is the child of Turkish migrants. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Terror attacks in France and Austria have put Europe’s 25 million Muslims back in the spotlight. The unwanted attention is familiar. Discussing Muslims as a security risk invariably reaches fever pitch after an Islamist-inspired terrorist act. This time the attackers came from Chechnya, Tunisia and one had roots in North Macedonia. But never mind: anxiety over the Muslim “enemy within” goes deep.

Anxious debates on the place of Islam in Europe and claims that European Muslims are footsoldiers in an existential confrontation between Europe and Islam and represent an impossible-to-integrate “other” have dogged Muslims across the continent for decades.

There is a dangerous new shrillness to the conversation this time, however.

The rhetoric over the alleged “Islamisation” of Europe is fired up by xenophobic and populist parties including such figures as Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, but it has been embraced by too many mainstream European politicians.

Macron’s task is to show French Muslims they have a place in the republic

EU home affairs ministers are this week discussing measures to block online Islamist propaganda, provide imams with training in “European” values and pay more attention to the integration of Muslims. And given the fears of increased Islamist-related terrorism, some of these steps are justified. But governments must ensure such actions do not fuel an increase in violence, discrimination and hate against their own Muslim citizens.


There’s a social pandemic poisoning Europe: hatred of Muslims

arely does the EU act so swiftly. Less than four months since the killing of George Floyd in police custody and the Black Lives Matter campaign that spilled into Europe and galvanised continent-wide protests, the EU is appointing its first ever anti-racism coordinator. This brilliant idea will make little sense, however, if anti-Muslim hatred is not part of their portfolio. Because instead of building a “truly anti-racist union”, as the president of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, would wish, we have so far built an anti-Muslim one.

Prejudice against Muslims exists in every corner of Europe. Not only do we collectively devalue and discriminate against Europeans who follow Islam, but the incidence of violence against Muslims is increasing.

We have known since the refugee and migration crisis of 2015 and the jihadist terrorist attacks in France, Spain and Germany that Muslims suffer from an exceptionally bad reputation in our societies. In 2019, research conducted for the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s Religion Monitor yet again confirmed widespread mistrust towards Muslims across Europe. In Germany and Switzerland, every second respondent said they perceived Islam as a threat. In the UK, two in five share this perception. In Spain and France, about 60% think Islam is incompatible with the “west”. In Austria, one in three doesn’t want to have Muslim neighbours.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) confirms these findings in its most recent paper on the rise and meaning of hate crimes against Muslims. So does Europe’s police coordinating body Europol: in 2019, far-right terrorism soared.


Muslim, Jewish Leaders Team up to Foster Religious Understanding

muslim-jew-1200x600Although the site is remote, it has plenty of symbolism: Beginning this Sunday, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders from some 15 countries will meet in the southern Italian city of Matera, one of Europe’s 2019 cultural capitals, to take part in the Jewish European Islamic Summit. The leaders are laying the groundwork that will allow them to speak out together more strongly on the issues affecting them.

“I think the project, in this particular arrangement, is rather unique. It is a tender blossom that must be nurtured and that deserves further support,” Tarafa Baghajati tells DW. Baghajati, a civil engineer from Vienna, is one of Austria’s more prominent imams. Together with others, the 58-year-old founded the Initiative of Austrian Muslims (IMÖ) in 1999. He was also involved in the creation of Platform Christians and Muslims, founded in 2006. He will be taking part in the summit in Matera.

Into the future, side by side

The project is indeed unique. In Europe, generally, Jewish and Muslim leaders often only appear together at public events hosted by politicians, at three-way dialogues between Christians, Jews and Muslims, or at interfaith conferences.

But three years ago, another group was founded: the Muslim Jewish Leadership Council (MJLC). It was established when a total of 14 European Jewish and Muslim leaders met in Vienna at the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, known as KAICIID.

At first, the MJLC was a small group. Notably, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), was a member from the start. Over the course of several meetings, mutual trust grew and a true exchange began. The MJLC organized the conference in Matera.


How Muslims Became the Good Guys on TV

p07drx41Hit show Homeland is about to end, after many years casting Islam as the enemy. But in its place has come a wave of thrillers portraying Muslims as heroes, writes Mohammad Zaheer.

One of Hollywood’s many ugly truths is that, for all its claims to be a progressive industry, it has relied heavily on racial and ethnic stereotypes, catering to and shaping the prejudices that are prevalent amongst its audience. This is especially true when it comes to who it chooses as its villains.

Even though the Cold War ended decades ago, Russians have remained a favoured variety of bad guy, and Germans have also had a rough ride thanks to the countless number of Nazi evildoers who have appeared on screen since World War Two.

But since the turn of the millennium, the demographic who has undoubtedly been the greatest single target for demonisation are Muslim-Arabs. Even before the events of 9/11, they found themselves portrayed variously as sleazy oil rich sex pests, exotic subservient women, misogynists and/or militant terrorists. But the tragedy of September 11 2001 and the subsequent war on terror only exacerbated their negative typecasting.