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Time to Combat Anti-Muslim Hatred!

We are in the midst of a global pandemic, and it is having a crippling effect on public health. Every day in Europe thousands of people are being hospitalised with COVID-19, people are losing their jobs and evicted from their homes. We are facing the worst economic crisis, yet European leaders are preoccupied with being “worried about Islamo-leftism”.

There is no surprise that we are seeing a rise in Islamophobia across the EU. With countries like Denmark, Austria and France introducing legislation to prohibit religious head coverings; the far rights’ xenophobic tools are taking root again.

In France, Macron’s government is debating who is more Islamophobic on national TV with right wing, anti-immigration party leader Marine Le Pen. The French minister for higher education Frederique Vidal talks about “Islamo-leftism” in the country’s academic institutions but does nothing for the hundreds of students waiting in line for food handouts. The debate about France’s new bill trying to prevent radicalisation shows that islamophobia is now normal in parliamentary discussions and has reached so-called centrist, liberal governments. Islam is singled out and civil liberties of Muslims are being attacked.

On Sunday, people in Switzerland will vote on a face veil ban. The initiative labels itself as a “general veiling ban” and doesn’t specifically mention niqab or burka but it mentions that exceptions can be made if the veil is needed for health, warmth, safety or for carnival reasons. This is openly an islamophobic initiative that targets Muslim women. It is also misogynist as it tries to strip away women’s choice of clothing. It is a shame that this vote is coming only one day before International Women’s Day.

Most often these initiatives are masked under freedom of speech or female emancipation. In reality, they are openly Islamophobic and anti-feminist in cases of veil bans. The right wing and centrist governments are using identity politics in order to take up space in the political debate to avoid real problems such as economic, health, social justice and climate crises. 

As Young Greens we must fight this and challenge both our mother parties and governments to tackle all forms of racism, especially those rooted in religious intolerance.

The Federation of Young European Greens calls on the European Commission to step up its campaign to combat anti-muslim hatred, and, alongside the Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), call out member organisations perpetrating hatred through legislation and nationalistic rhetoric.