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Germany failing to protect Muslims from hate: Human Rights Watch

By Arab News

May 1, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

  • Government ‘lacks understanding’ of racism targeting Muslim communities

  • 2023 marked ‘frighteningly new high’ for hate incidents: German NGO chief

LONDON: Germany is failing to protect Muslims from growing racism amid a “lack of understanding” about the issue, Human Rights Watch has warned.

The country has yet to implement a working definition of anti-Muslim racism and frequently fails to record data on race-hate incidents, the organization said on Tuesday.

A key failing of the German government concerns its “lack of understanding that Muslims experience racism and not simply faith-based hostility,” said Almaz Teffera, a HRW researcher on racism in Europe.

“Without a clear understanding of anti-Muslim hate and discrimination in Germany, and strong data on incidents and community outreach, a response by the German authorities will be ineffective.”

Germany recorded 610 “anti-Islamic” crimes in 2022, but from the start of 2023 to September that year, the number had climbed to 686.

There are fears that the figure has further surged since the outbreak of the Gaza conflict last October.

Germany’s Interior Ministry told HRW that it could not provide data on anti-Muslim crimes from October 2023 to the year-end.

However, civil society groups in the country recorded a spike in reported incidents, leading Germany’s federal commissioner for anti-racism, Reem Alabali-Radovan, to join an EU-wide expression of concern about the rise in hate.

The Alliance Against Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate, a German NGO network, documented “an average of three anti-Muslim incidents a day” last November.

The network’s chief, Rima Hanano, told HRW that “2023 marked a frighteningly new high for anti-Muslim incidents.”

Though the network collects its own internal data on the frequency of hate incidents, the German government “has yet to develop an infrastructure for countrywide monitoring and data collection,” HRW said.

The government has also classified hate incidents against Muslims as “anti-Islamic” since 2017, removing nuances surrounding the ethnic identities of victims, HRW added.

A three-year study commissioned by the government and published last year recommended that authorities “no longer dissociate anti-Muslim hate from racism,” but instead “recognize their connection.”

However, the Interior Ministry has failed to carry out the report’s recommendations, HRW said, adding: “Any focus on anti-Muslim hate and discrimination that fails to include racism or acknowledge the intersectional nature of such hostility will be unable to capture the full picture or inform effective policy responses.”

Muslim communities in Germany are a “group with a diversity of ethnicities” rather than a “monolithic religious group,” said Teffera.

“Germany should invest in protecting Muslims and all other minority communities in Germany because it is an investment in protecting all of German society.”



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