Lifestyle & Belief

Muslims in Europe suffer discrimination, says Amnesty International


The Dutch government said it will introduce a law next week banning head coverings such as birqas.



LONDON – Muslims who openly show their faith face widespread discrimination in Europe, according to a new report published by human rights group Amnesty International.

The report, which focuses on Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, comes two days after Marine Le Pen’s right-wing National Front party secured a record result in the first round of France’s presidential elections.

Entitled “Choice and Prejudice: Discrimination Against Muslims in Europe,” the report urges European governments to make greater efforts to tackle negative stereotypes of and prejudices against Muslims, according to the BBC.

It says Muslims face discrimination in employment, education and religious freedom for wearing particular forms of dress, and criticizes moves to ban Muslims veils in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain, as well as a ban on minarets enacted in Switzerland in 2009.

More from GlobalPost: How France's far-right party can help Sarkozy win

“Muslim women are being denied jobs and girls prevented from attending regular classes just because they wear traditional forms of dress such as the headscarf. Men can be dismissed for wearing beards associated with Islam,” Macro Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert, said, according to the Agence France Presse.

“Rather than countering these prejudices, political parties and public officials are all too often pandering to them in their quest for votes.”

The report also says that legislation prohibiting employment discrimination in Belgium, France and the Netherlands “has not been appropriately implemented,” according to CNN.

Perolini said that “European Union legislation prohibiting discrimination on the ground of religion or belief in the area of employment seems to be toothless across Europe, as we observe a higher rate of unemployment among Muslims, and especially Muslim women of foreign origin.”

The report recommends that national anti-discrimination bodies be set up and greater efforts be made to monitor discrimination on the basis of religion. 

More from GlobalPost: Netherlands joins growing chorus for burqa ban