| ||Minority Rights Group International (MRG) has published a new report titled 'State of the World's Minorities and Indigenous Peoples' in which it says that religious intolerance is 'the new racism' and one of the main reasons for the persecution of minorities worldwide. |
The report says that Muslims in particular have been increasingly targeted by authorities in Europe and the US as part of counter-terrorism measures, and notes the rising trend in Islamophobia across Europe.
From a press release issued by the group:
'The report says ultra right-wing parties, aiming to establish themselves in mainstream political arenas in Europe, justify their anti-immigration, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic rhetoric by stoking fears that religious minorities and immigrants are a threat to modern societies.
'‘Successes in the 2009 European Parliamentary elections, and at the national parliamentary level, have allowed these populist right-wing parties to shift formerly far-right ideas, on immigration for example, into the mainstream,’ says Carl Soderbergh, MRG’s Director of Policy and Communications.
'The report details a sharp rise in Islamophobia in Europe in 2009.
'In May 2009, ultra right-wing groups held an ‘anti-Islam’ rally to oppose the building of a large new mosque in Cologne, Germany. When the authorities in Denmark’s capital city Copenhagen approved the country’s first purpose-built mosque, the extreme-right Danish People’s Party launched an anti-mosque campaign in September.
'Following a campaign by the ultra-conservative Swiss People's Party, a sizeable majority of Switzerland’s cantons backed a referendum in November, which proposed a ban on the building of new minarets in mosques.
'‘MRG is deeply concerned about the infringement of religious freedom that the Swiss ban on minarets, and other European Islamophobic initiatives, supposes for the Muslim community. We urge European authorities to abide by their obligations under international law and protect their populations’ freedom to practice their religion and be free from discrimination,’ added Soderbergh.
'The report also notes an increase in the number of incidents against the Jewish community in Europe. Research shows that during 2007 and most of 2008, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the EU declined, but that it has been on the rise again since December of 2008.'
The increase in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism underlines the need for faith groups, particularly the Muslim and Jewish communities, to work together to tackle the common threat of racism and religious intolerance.
The full report can be read here.
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