European Muslims ‘trust democratic institutions’ despite discrimination

Michael O'Flaherty, FRA director
Michael O’Flaherty, FRA director

The vast majority of Muslims in the European Union have a high sense of trust in democratic institutions despite experiencing widespread discrimination and harassment, a survey by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) shows.

Its second large survey of Muslims asked about markers of integration like a sense of belonging and trust in public institutions, as well as experiences of discrimination, harassment, policing and rights awareness.

Michael O’Flaherty, FRA director, said: “Our survey results make a mockery of the claim that Muslims aren’t integrated into our societies. On the contrary, we see a trust in democratic institutions that is higher than much of the general population.

“However, every incident of discrimination and hate crime hampers their inclusion and reduces their chances of finding employment. We risk alienating individuals and their communities, with potentially perilous consequences.”

According to the report, 76 per cent of Muslim respondents feel strongly attached to the country they live in; 31 per cent of those seeking work have been discriminated against over the last five years; and 42 per cent of respondents stopped by the police over the last year said this was because of their migrant or ethnic background.

It suggests a number of solutions, including effective sanctions for violations of anti-discrimination legislation; reinforcement of trust in the police through targeted outreach activities; and greater efforts to increase the participation of Muslims in decision-making processes.

European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans added: “I am encouraged by the confidence of Europe’s Muslim communities in our public institutions and rule of law, despite the individual challenges of discrimination which they attest to.

“But I am disheartened by which shows that over the past five years almost one in three Muslims feel that they have been discriminated against when looking for work, but that only 12 per cent of Muslims have reported the latest cases of discrimination.

“I want to assure our Muslim citizens that the European Commission will not tolerate intolerance. It goes against our values and our laws.”

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