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March 22, 2015

Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in Europe

by James Sleigh, Online Sports Editor
Hate crimes against racial and political minorities have sharply increased in many western European countries, a sentiment that demonstrates Europe's political shift to more conservative values. Several Muslim and Jewish communities have been threatened in the wake of attacks on Muslims in France, Sweden and Germany, and on Jews in Paris and Copenhagen.

A study by the European Union's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) found that between Jan. 7 and Feb. 7 of 2015, there was a 70 percent increase in Islamophobic incidents in Europe from 2014. Since the attack on the headquarters of French magazine Charlie Hebdo on Jan.7, twenty-six mosques have been targeted, including a mosque in Le Mans, France, 45 minutes from the French capital, which was hit with three blank grenades and gunfire through the windows. French police have since been stationed at various mosques throughout the country.
Belgian right-wingers pose with anti-Muslim signs. Courtesy of RT
Belgian right-wingers pose with anti-Muslim signs.

Europe's Jewish population has also felt the effects of anti-Semitism in Europe, following an armed attack on a Kosher supermarket, by the same group that claimed the Paris attacks. According to Israel's Jewish Agency in Paris, over 2,000 Jews have signed up for information on how to move back to Israel since the start of 2015, up from an average of 150 the year before. In 2014, over 7,000 Jews migrated from Europe, double the figure from the previous year.

The increasing number of hate crimes against religious minorities have followed the nationalist trend in Europe. "A widespread disillusion with political and business elites, after years of disappointing economic growth, is a common factor that underpins resurgent nationalism across in Western Europe," said Gideon Rachman of "The Economist." Groups such as the German-based Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) have opened chapters in many other European countries like England, Italy and the Netherlands. PEGIDA's mission is to reduce the "Islamization of the West" by restricting immigration to the European Union.

PEGIDA's UK chapter opened with a rally in Newcastle, England. A PEGIDA spokesperson said Muslims must assimilate to English life. "We are against radical Islam, hate preachers and believe Muslims need to adapt to our way of life in the west instead of us adapting to them," the spokesperson said.

The conservative and nationalist shift has been well documented in European elections. The anti-foreigner attitude is represented in the Parliament of the European Union with right-wing parties such as the Freedom Party in in the Netherlands, Golden Dawn in Greece and Marine Le Pen's Front National in France gaining between a sizable portion of the vote in elections last year. "These far right parties achieved between 10% and 25% of the vote, a sharp increase from previous elections," according to Andy Carling of Neurope, a European news agency.

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  • iw (View Email) on March 22, 2015 at 2:50 PM
  • Concerned on March 23, 2015 at 9:03 AM
    This is terrifying.
  • expected (View Email) on April 14, 2015 at 7:48 AM
    tit for tat
  • M. Grossman on April 14, 2015 at 8:06 AM
    Unlike the United States the origins of European nations are rooted in the common experience that is largely rooted in shared ancestry as opposed as shared set of ideological principles.

    The violent acts of anti-Semitism that have taken place in France, Belgium and Denmark and attempted in other nations have been almost exclusively perpetrated by Islamic extremists, not those of European ancestry.

    However, those of European ancestry share the blame because when anti-Semitic crimes take place many in Europe dodge responsibility by pointing their fingers at their nation's Muslims. In essence, some European nations absolve themselves of blame by claiming that their Muslim minorities, in essence, do not belong and cannot be considered "European," despite the fact that many were born there and only know life in Europe.

    In a strange twist anti-Semitic acts perpetrated by Islamic extremists seem to be whipping up Islamaphobia sentiments among the populace.

    Not mentioned in this article, but no doubt a shocking bit of evidence is the polling data from Europe in which Europeans are asked: What percentage of your nation is Muslim? While Muslims make up no more than 8% of any European nation the polls apparently indicate that the population believe that 25-35% of their nation is Muslim in most European nations. That data speaks to a "besieged" sentiment that seems to be enveloping much of Europe.

  • disappointed in sc (View Email) on April 14, 2015 at 8:06 AM
    Don't equate conservatism to racism...
    • Sam on May 11, 2015 at 11:09 AM
      Conservatism is all about racism. So is neo-Conservatism. Conservatives live in gated communities for a very specific reason.
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