Last week, on April 11th, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom hosted a conversation, Europe at a Crossroad: Civil Society Efforts to Counter Religious Hatred and Bigotry in Europe, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Akeela Ahmed, a member of the UK Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred, was among the European civil society leaders invited to address rising Islamophobia in Europe. Ms. Ahmed’s intervention focused on diverse manifestations of anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK such as hate crimes; the gendered dimension to Islamophobia; religious discrimination in employment; anti-Muslim media bias; Islamophobia online; and effective solutions in countering anti-Muslim sentiment.
She highlighted a number of significant trends and research findings, including:
- Anti-Muslim hate crimes in London tripled following the Paris terrorist attacks and increased more generally in 2015.
- University of Cambridge research found Muslim women were more likely to suffer discrimination in the public square than their non-Muslim female counterparts.
- TELL MAMA UK reported Muslim women were more likely to suffer attacks in the virtual and online realms than Muslim men.
- Research shows that UK Muslims are less likely to be found in managerial and professional posts than members of other religious groups, and that educated Muslim women are more likely to be unemployed than other women with identical credentials.
- Studies show that 84% of news coverage of Islam and Muslims is likely to have a harmful impact such as contributing to anxiety and suspicion about Muslims among non-Muslims.
- Muslims are demonized, dehumanized and threatened online.
Ms. Ahmed makes a number of recommendations to counter the rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK. These include strengthening partnerships between civil society organizations and law enforcement agencies, interfaith dialogue and initiatives, and dismantling barriers to employment to help facilitate greater socio-economic integration.