Certain countries in Europe took steps to legalize Islamophobia in 2020, according to research.
The European Islamophobia Report prepared by professors Enes Bayraklı from the Turkish-German University and Farid Hafez from Georgetown University analyzed the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe, including statements in favor of laws that suppress the rights of European Muslims.
Some 37 academics, experts and civil society activists specialized in issues related to racism contributed to the report, which analyzed the current status of Islamophobia in 31 countries.
In Austria, the government established a “documentation center” in July 2020 to blacklist Muslims. The center compiles information about Muslim institutions, including over 600 mosques and education centers, their ideologies, administrators and addresses, and shared a digital map called the “Islam-Landkarte” containing all this information with the public.
The Muslim community was outraged by the government’s policy. A group led by professor Ednan Aslan from Vienna University argued that the digital map portrayed Muslims as potential criminals and resembled blackmailing. They also accused the government of manipulating the public by scapegoating Muslims to get away with corruption allegations.
In Germany, a judge of Turkish descent was removed from duty for wearing a headscarf, while the Constitutional Court in Belgium ruled that it was legal to ban political and religious symbols in post-secondary education institutions.
The Constitutional Court ruled in early June that a ban on headscarves would not go against the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR).
The case was referred to the Constitutional Court by a Brussels court after Muslim students sued Francisco Ferrer Brussels University College over a ban on all religious symbols.
The ruling sparked backlash on social media among young people and students, with rights organizations also decrying the move as a violation of a basic human right.
Since the decision, 12 Belgian universities and colleges have assured students they will not impose such a ban, stressing that religious freedom is protected in their classrooms, according to The Brussels Times.
In Bulgaria, Muslim wrestler Muhammed Abdulkadir was accused of participating in terrorist acts after sharing photos of himself wearing a military uniform in Syria in 2016.
Although the parliament rejected the bill, a far-right Danish party presented a law proposing to ban headscarves in all public institutions.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron introduced a bill proposing to ban headscarves for girls under the age of 18 in public spaces and far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders also tried to introduce similar bills to ban the headscarf and the ritual of sacrifice during Qurban Bayram, also known as Eid al-Adha.
Wilders, known for his anti-Muslim stance, frequently posts against Muslims. In April, he shared a post saying “stop Islam, stop Ramadan.”
“Islam does not belong in the Netherlands,” Wilders said.
The Swedish government banned the establishment of Muslim schools in the country after Education Minister Anna Ekstrom’s announcement in support of the move against religious schools./agencies