2022/2023 Amnesty International Report on European Religious Minorities

Amnesty International has raised concerns over the increasing racialization and discrimination of Muslims across Europe, with Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK being identified as the main offenders. In a recent report, the human rights organization highlighted the alarming rise in discriminatory and racist laws, policies, and practices against Muslims.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief has warned that widespread negative representations of Islam, along with fear of Muslims, have led to the escalation of institutional suspicion of Muslims in Europe. This has resulted in the erosion of their human rights, including access to education, employment, housing, and freedom of expression, religion, and association.

In Austria, 812 hate crimes against Muslims were reported in 2021, with a notable spike after a digital map identifying the locations of over 600 mosques and associations was unveiled. The European Network Against Racism found that Muslim women are more likely to be victims of hate crimes and hate speech than Muslim men, often being targeted in public places and the workplace.

The report also reveals a worrying trend in many European states, where politicians routinely link Islam and terrorism, contributing to a hostile environment for Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim. This demonization of Muslims has led to cases where human rights defenders advocating for the protection of Muslim people’s rights have been accused of being terrorists or supporting terrorism.

Amnesty International has called on all states, including Council of Europe member states, to refrain from adopting or maintaining vague and overly broad definitions of “terrorism” and ensure that each element of terrorism-related offenses under national law is precisely and sufficiently circumscribed to uphold the principle of legality.

Furthermore, the organization urges states to refrain from bypassing the ordinary criminal justice system and avoid creating parallel administrative executive powers. They also recommend ensuring that no person is subjected to arbitrary detention in the context of counterterrorism operations and avoiding the use of secret evidence as much as possible.

The increasing discrimination against Muslims in Europe must be addressed, and governments must take action to combat Islamophobia and protect the fundamental human rights of all citizens.

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