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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.