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Bias against Muslims

Although stereotypes against Muslims are centuries old, in recent years they have evolved and gained momentum under the conditions of the "war on terror", the global economic crisis and challenges related to the management of religious and cultural diversity. Anti-Muslim rhetoric often associates Muslims with terrorism and extremism, or portrays the presence of Muslim communities as a threat to national identity. Muslims are often portrayed as a monolithic group, whose culture is incompatible with human rights and democracy. ODIHR's reporting suggests anti-Muslim hate crimes and incidents increases following terrorist attacks, and on the anniversaries of such attacks. Attacks against mosques – particularly on Fridays and religious holidays – including leaving the remains of pigs outside mosques, community centres and Muslim families' homes, as well as attacks against women wearing headscarves, are among the anti-Muslim hate incidents commonly reported.

Beginning in 2002, OSCE participating States have explicitly condemned acts of discrimination and violence against Muslims and firmly rejected the identification of terrorism and extremism with any religion and culture. The Astana declaration (2010) stressed that international developments and political issues cannot justify any form of intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, and encouraged participating States to challenge anti-Muslim prejudice and stereotypes.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes can be recorded under a variety of categories, including anti-religious hate crimes, crimes motivated by ethnic bias, and can also be reported separately or as racist and xenophobic crime. Muslim NGOs are developing their monitoring capacity through outreach and online reporting, in recognition of the importance of hate crime monitoring as an important advocacy tool. However, a lack of trust in the authorities in some countries also lead to under-reporting of anti-Muslim hate crime, and this appears to have a significant influence on hate crime figures reported to ODIHR.



International Reports


In its concluding observation on periodic reports of Canada, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) expressed concern that racist hate crimes remain under-reported and that the racist hate crime is not tracked consistently across Canada's ten provinces. CERD also expressed concern at the increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims. CERD recommended that Canada facilitate reporting by victims, ensure the effective investigation of racist hate crimes and prosecute and sanction perpetrators. It recommended that Canada should also systematically track hate crimes across the criminal justice system, train law enforcement and judges on how to recognize and register hate crimes and address the reasons for the increase in hate crime targeting Muslims.


In its fifth report on Denmark, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended that the authorities facilitate closer co-operation between Muslim communities and the police to prevent and combat violence against Muslims.

In its fifth report on Denmark, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended that the police take hate motivations into consideration in cases of vandalism targeting religious sites.

OSCE Region

In his speech to the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chair-in-Office on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims recommended that states commit to recording hate crime against Muslims as a separate disaggregated category.

In its report presenting selected findings from the European Union's MiDis II survey, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) recommended better enforcement of the relevant EU and national legislation to address widespread harassment and hate crime against first and second generation Muslim immigrants.

In their report, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance observed that fear of terrorism and racist and xenophobic speech often translate into increases in hate crimes targeting Muslims, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. The Special Rapporteur reiterated the importance of collecting disaggregated data on hate crimes.

The Human Rights Council, in Resolution 31/16, expressed concern over violent attacks motivated by anti-religious bias, targeting individuals belonging to religious minorities, as well as religious places, and recommended that states prevent, investigate and punish such acts.