London – A coalition of Muslim NGOs, taking part in the Organisation for Security & Cooperation in Europe’s annual Human Dimension Conference in Poland, have condemned the mass Quran burnings in Sweden and the enforcement of the abaya ban in France. They have made an urgent call for an end to state-sponsored Islamophobia and the systematic targeting of Muslim communities throughout Europe. 

The conference heard statements from the participating NGOs including CAGE Austria, Perspectives Musulmanes from France, the Anti-Racist Association for Human Rights from Spain, the MRWN from the Netherlands and INSAN from Sweden.

The 10-day annual conference, dedicated to fostering dialogue on human rights and fundamental freedoms among OSCE states and across Europe, witnessed a dedicated call to action against the rising tide of Islamophobia, asserting that rising Islamophobia across Europe are alarming manifestations of a broader issue – the systematic targeting of European Muslim communities.

The coalition issued an urgent plea for an end to state-sponsored Islamophobia and the increasingly aggressive discrimination faced by Muslim communities across the continent. There was a collective call for an end to the demonisation of Muslim communities, the repealing of Islamophobic laws and legislation, the elimination of counter-terrorism policies that indiscriminately target Muslim communities and an end to the surveillance, securitisation and criminalisation of Muslim NGOs and rights activists. 

Nehal Abdallah, Researcher at CAGE Austria, said:

“In recent years, the government of Austria has systematically initiated a range of policies aimed at surveilling, controlling, and criminalising members of the Muslim religious minority under the pretext of combating an ambiguously defined ‘Political Islam’. This terminology serves as a broad-stroke rationale for a litany of infringements upon the civil liberties and human rights of Austria’s Muslim community.”

Elias d’Imzalene of Perspectives Musulmanes in France, said:

“We ask international diplomacy to react strongly to this Islamophobic policy of terror and humiliation of the French government. This is important for Muslims, for all minorities but also for Western diplomacies, whose wish is to maintain a spirit of justice and credibility in Europe and across the world. All my tributes and my respect go to these young Muslim girls who continue despite threats to fight for their freedom to remain Muslim even if the French government does not want it.”

Aurora Ali of the Anti-Racist Association for Human Rights in Spain, said:

“The way the Spanish state views and interacts with the Muslim community is with suspicion and criminalization. Something we can see clearly in the implementation of numerous directives that involve civil society, but also teachers, social workers, universities or banks, among others, in the need to monitor and denounce their Muslim neighbours. Muslim activists and imams are being deported or imprisoned without evidence, unfairly.”

Adil El-Kanfoudi, spokesperson for Muslim Rights Watch (Netherlands) said:

We are facing a distressing reality where Muslims are systematically targeted and unjustly placed on blacklists and terror lists, a blatant violation of their inherent constitutional rights. This discriminatory practice not only infringes upon individual liberties but also instils fear and division within our communities.

Amanj Aziz, spokesperson for INSAN (Sweden) said:

“If books and mosques are being burnt, if Muslims are not permitted to dress as they choose, if they are subject to extensive surveillance, if they are frequently portrayed as problematic, and if they are viewed as potentially violent, where do the people in this room believe we are heading? Ultimately, the question can be put much more bluntly: What do Sweden and Europe want to do and what do they want to happen to their Muslim population?”

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)