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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.

Successive ODIHR reports have suggested that the incidence of 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.

ODIHR | TANDIS



SELECT YEAR

Reports

Overview of incidents reported by civil society

Attacks Against People Attacks Against Property Total
Violent Attacks Threats
231 99 347 677

Austria

Official figures recorded 31 crimes motivated by bias against Muslims.

ZARA reported four physical assaults, including one targeting a Muslim family in which dogs were unleashed and two targeting women in headscarves; six incidents of damage to property, which included targets such as a Pakistani cultural centre, a kindergarten, and two mosques, one of which was also reported on by SETA; and 15 incidents of anti-Muslim graffiti. SETA reported a physical assault targeting a woman wearing a headscarf, two incidents of vandalism involving anti-Muslim graffiti, one threat and one incident of damage to a mosque.

The Anti-Discrimination Office Styria reported a case of attempted murder involving a car ramming into a pedestrian and three additional physical assaults targeting women in headscarves.

SETA and the Documentation Centre for Muslims in Austria reported two physical assaults involving the use of weapons against Muslim women. The Documentation Centre for Muslims in Austria reported eight additional physical assaults against Muslim women, one of which involved the use of a weapon; an incident of threats against a Muslim woman; seven incidents of vandalism; an incident of damage to a prayer house; and one incident in which pig entrails where placed at the door to a mosque.

Belgium

Racism Islamophobia Watch (ORIW) reported an incident of physical violence targeting a twelve year old child, who was slapped by an educator for refusing to eat pork; and a series of threatening envelopes containing white substance sent to two mosques and a regional centre for integration.

SETA reported three incidents of threats, including two threatening letters and the delivery of suspicious powder in the mail.

The Collective against Islamophobia in Belgium (CCIB) reported four physical assaults, including one in which a knife and a firearm were used, and two others in which pedestrians were hit by a car; five threats; three incidents of graffiti; and the desecration of a mosque in which severed pig heads were found in the backyard.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

SETA and the Islamic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina reported five incidents of threats that occurred near mosques at prayer time, two cases of damage to mosques and one incident targeting a cemetery.

The Interreligious Council in Bosnia-Herzegovina reported a case of threats to worshippers during prayers, two incidents of damage to property in or near mosques, and four incidents of vandalism, including one involving graffiti on a mosque.

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina reported ten incidents that targeted Muslims or Islamic sites, including mosques and cemeteries.

Bulgaria

The Office of Grand Mufti in Bulgaria reported an arson attack on a mosque; an incident of damage to another mosque, in which windows were broken; five incidents of vandalism involving Islamophobic graffiti on mosques and on the building housing the Grand Mufti’s offices, including one incident in which pork was scattered in front of a mosque; and the desecration of a mosque, in which a pig's head was hung on the minaret on the first day of Ramadan.

Canada

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) reported 12 physical assaults, all of which targeted Muslim women wearing headscarves; five threats; five incidents of damage to property; and 13 incidents of vandalism, ten of which involved graffiti. The Organization Racism Islamophobia Watch (ORIW) and the NCCM also reported an arson attack on a mosque.

Croatia

Official figures recorded one threat based on anti-religious bias.

Czech Republic

Official figures recorded three cases of threats motivated by bias against Muslims and three cases of incitement to violence against Muslims.

In IUSTITIA reported six physical assaults, eight threats, five incidents of damage to property and one incident of graffiti. SETA reported two additional incidents of vandalism targeting one mosque, in which windows were broken and motor oil spilled over doors and walls.

Denmark

Official figures recorded 41 hate crimes motivated by anti-Muslim bias.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported a physical assault, in which a woman was referred to as a terrorist and assaulted; an attempted arson attack on a Muslim community centre; and two incidents of the desecration of and damage to graves.

France

Official figures recorded 336 hate crimes motivated by anti-Muslim bias, including 29 physical assaults, 18 arson attacks, 74 cases of damage to property, 175 incidents of vandalism and 40 cases of threat.

The Association against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) and the Organization Racism Islamophobia Watch (ORIW) reported one murder, one physical assault, three arson attacks, one incident of vandalism, three cases of damage to property and one case of the desecration of graves. The CCIF and ENAR reported three additional physical assaults.

The CCIF also reported 33 physical assaults, three attempted physical assaults, five arson attacks, two attempted arson attacks, 26 incidents of vandalism, six cases of damage to property, four threats and ten incidents of the desecration of graves.

LICRA reported one attempted murder, four physical assaults, one threat, one incident of damage to property and one case of vandalism. The ORIW also reported three physical assaults, three threats, one incident of damage to property, four cases of vandalism, two arson attacks and one attempted arson attack.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported two cases of damage to property against Mosques.

Georgia

The Analytical Center for Interethnic Cooperation and Consultations (ACICC) reported an incident in which local Christian and Muslim communities clashed over ownership of a disputed building, resulting in injuries to three members of the Muslim community.

Germany

Insaan reported two physical assaults, including an attack carried by a group on an elderly Sikh man mistaken for a Muslim, an incident of threats and two incidents of vandalism involving graffiti.

The coalition of civil society groups Hate Crime Counselling Project reported 20 incidents targeting Muslims, including physical assaults, harassment, threats, damage to property and other types of incidents.

Greece

The Greek Helsinki Monitor, the Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association and the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe reported an arson attack on a mosque. The Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association and the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe reported the desecration of graves in a cemetery adjacent to a mosque on the same day as the arson attack. The Greek Helsinki Monitor also reported one incident of graffiti on the same mosque. SETA reported an additional arson attack on a mosque.

The Greek Helsinki Monitor and the Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN), the Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association and the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe reported one incident of theft and vandalism targeting a Turkish political party. The Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association and the Federation of Western Thrace Turks in Europe reported two additional incidents of damage to property belonging to Muslim organizations. The Western Thrace Minority University Graduates Association reported one further incident of damage to property.

Iceland

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported an incident of vandalism on an Islamic cultural centre.

Italy

Lunaria reported one physical assault against a veiled woman, one arson attack targeting an Islamic centre, two cases of damage to property, three incidents graffiti and one incident of the desecration a mosque.

Lunaria and SETA reported one arson attack against a halal butcher shop. SETA reported one additional arson attack on a mosque.

Latvia

SETA and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported one incident of graffiti on a mosque.

Reported incidents are included in the above section.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The Macedonian Helsinki Committee and the OSCE Mission to Skopje reported an incident in which a demonstration deteriorated, leading to the vandalization of an Islamic religious centre.

Netherlands

Official figures recorded 439 hate crimes motivated by intolerance against Muslims. The figures include cases of hate speech and discrimination.

SETA and Turkish Forum Netherlands reported one physical assault on a Muslim woman. SETA also reported one incident of graffiti targeting a number of houses. Turkish Forum Netherlands reported three physical assaults carried out by large groups, two of which targeted women; two threats; four arson attacks targeting mosques, one shop and the building housing a Turkish association; eight incidents of damage to property, four of which targeted mosques; five incidents of graffiti, and one incident of desecration. 

Poland

The Ministry of the Interior recorded 42 hate crimes motivated by anti-Muslim bias.

The Never Again Association, SETA and the European Centre for Democracy Development reported one incident of vandalism against a mosque. SETA and the Never Again Association reported one incident of the desecration of a mosque and one incident of damage to property incident in which a Muslim-owned store was fired-upon and stoned.

The Never Again Association reported five physical assaults, including three carried out by groups, targeting Syrian, Egyptian, Palestinian and Sikh men and one woman; two incidents of threats; and one incident of anti-Muslim graffiti.

Russian Federation

The SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis reported two physical assaults carried out by groups, two arson attacks and four acts of vandalism. The Muslim Problem Research Centre reported one incident of vandalism.

Serbia

SETA reported one incident of graffiti.

Slovakia

The Islamic Foundation in Slovakia reported two physical assaults, including one carried out by a group in which bottles and stones were thrown at a family; and one incident of damage to property.

Spain

The Union of Islamic Communities of Spain, the Observatory for Freedom of Religion and Conscience and the Civic Platform Against Islamophobia reported two incidents of vandalism targeting a mosque and a cultural centre. The Cabinet of Social studies (GES), the Union the Civic Platform reported one physical assault and one case of vandalism. The GES and the Union reported one additional physical assault.

The Union and the Civic Platform reported one physical assault, one arson attack and four cases of vandalism. The GES reported one additional incident of vandalism. The Observatory also reported one incident of vandalism. The Union of Islamic Communities of Spain also reported two physical assaults and nine cases of vandalism.

Sweden

Official figures recorded 369 crimes motivated by anti-Muslim bias, consisting of 46 assaults, 76 cases of vandalism/damage to property, and 247 cases of threats.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Human Rights First and SETA reported the murder of two students with a sword with of anti-Muslim and racist motivations. SETA also reported an arson attack on a mosque, a case of threatening through mail, and vandalism involving desecration of a mosque, throwing canned pork and drawing graffiti.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported an arson attack on a mosque attended by refugees, resulting in injuries to five people.

Switzerland

The Consultation Network for the Victims of Racism reported one physical assault on a Muslim woman and one threat in which a car driver pretended to run over a woman wearing a headscarf.

Ukraine

The Congress of National Communities of Ukraine (CNCU) reported one physical assault. The CNCU also reported two incidents of damage to property in territories that are not controlled by the government of Ukraine.

United Kingdom

Official figures recorded 2,372 crimes based on intolerance against Muslims in England and Wales.

MEND and Tell MAMA reported the attempted murder of a woman wearing a headscarf, who was pushed in front of an incoming train in a subway station; ten physical assaults, including one which involved the use of an air-rifle and three targeting women; one threat; one arson attack against a mosque; the bombing of a Muslim cultural centre; one attempted arson attack; two incidents of damage to mosques; nine incidents of vandalism ,including eight with graffiti; and one incident of the desecration of Muslim graves.

MEND reported 27 physical assaults, two of which resulted in the death of the victims, two of which were carried out by large groups, and three of which involved weapons. MEND also reported eight incidents of threat; one arson attack ,in which a car wash was also covered in anti-Muslim graffiti; one attempted arson attack; six incidents of damage to property, three of which targeted mosques; 16 incidents of vandalism; and one incident of the desecration of a mosque.

Tell MAMA reported an additional attempted murder, in which a group tried to push a woman wearing a headscarf in front of an incoming train; 54 physical assaults, including 27 that targeted women; three attempted physical assaults, one in which a large group attacked and harassed a group of women; 31 incidents of threats; one arson attack on a mosque; 14 incidents of damage to property, including six targeting mosques and eight private property; and 18 incidents of vandalism, of which 15 involved graffiti.

United States of America

Official figures recorded 301 hate crimes motivated by bias against Muslims..

The Ephesus Initiativethe Bridge Initiative and the ORIW reported the attempted murder of a Muslim taxi driver. The Ephesus Initiative and the Bridge Initiative also reported a physical assault that caused serious injury to a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf. The Ephesus Initiative further reported three incidents of threats, five arson attacks, eight cases of vandalism against mosques, and three incidents of the desecration of mosques. The ORIW also reported an additional physical assault against a group of Muslim men praying in a park. 

The Bridge Initiative reported two murders; 13 physical assaults, including two that caused serious injuries, two that involved the use of weapons, and one assault carried out by a group; nine incidents of threats; three arson attacks; nine incidents of damage to property; 14 incidents of anti-Muslim graffiti; and six incidents of the desecration of graves. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported an incident of vandalism targeting an Islamic centre.

OSCE Region

The OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMiK) reported that the Kosovo Police recorded 99 cases affecting religious and cultural heritage sites. These included 61 cases of theft, 17 cases of property damage, 12 cases of the desecration of cemeteries, one case of graffiti and one case of threats. Targets included 38 Serbian Orthodox sites, 52 Muslim sites, six Catholic sites and three unspecified sites.


Developments

Austria

Following its Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the Austrian authorities supported recommendations to review national hate crime legislation, to establish a system to collect comprehensive data on reported hate crimes, prosecutions and sentences, and to effectively investigate and prosecute hate crimes, including those motivated by intolerance against Muslims.

Czech Republic

In its "Concluding observations on the combined tenth and eleventh periodic reports of the Czech Republic", the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) emphasized the importance of effectively investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. CERD also expressed its concern about continued racially motivated violence against Roma people and on the increase in racially-motivated violence against Muslim communities.

Georgia

In its fourth report on Georgia, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recommended the creation of a unified hate crime database, the creation of a police unit specialized in hate crime, and that training programmes for law enforcement officials and the judiciary be augmented and include information on hate crime against LGBT people. ECRI also called for the effective investigation and prosecution of all hate crime cases, notably hate crimes against Muslims.

OSCE Region

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) passed a number of resolutions on hate crime issues, including Resolution 2069 on recognizing and preventing neo-racism, which recommends that hate crime legislation include the protected characteristics of race, colour, ethnicity, language, religion, disability, migrant status, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. PACE also recognized the issue of under-reporting by calling for more systematic reporting of hate crimes.

The report of the European Commission’s first annual colloquium on fundamental rights, "Tolerance and respect: preventing and combating anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe", recognized the need, in the context of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes, to ensure the implementation of hate crime laws, the protection of victims, and to improve the collection and recording of data on hate crimes.