A new report issued by the German Islamic Council addresses discrimination against the Muslim community in the country and calls on local institutions to act. In particular, the study shows that contempt cannot always be quantified.
Germany’s Islamic council has published an eye-opening and extensive study into the challenges facing Muslim communities in the country within educational institutions and workplaces.
The 27-page report, released by Islamrat, paints a gloomy picture about the future of fundamental rights of Muslims living in the country and makes recommendations to political circles for short-term and long-term plans to tackle the issue.
The study looks at social exclusion, the increasingly bipolar debate surrounding Muslims and Islam and the day-to-day issues Muslims face within the country.
Given the largely negative way in which the community is portrayed within the media, the study highlights both the threat xenophobia has on Muslims and pinpoints ways to quell the anti-Muslim sentiment.
More than 7,700 racist crimes were recorded in Germany last year, representing an overall increase of 20 percent.
Muslims remain “the other” within media outlets and political spheres
In a first, the report discusses why the term “Islamophobia” does not adequately address all forms of discrimination against Muslims and tenets that may not, in fact, be Islamic.
“Muslims are declared ‘others’ or ‘strangers’ and are always represented negatively. For the majority, the focus is not so much on the lives of Muslims, but on attributions,” says the report.
There were 813 attacks against Muslims and mosques last year in Germany, according to figures released by the German federal parliament. The German government points out that the final figures are likely to be even higher due to a lapse in notifications.
The report comes to a similar conclusion. "Attacks on Muslims and their institutions are on the increase. Unfortunately, anti-Muslim racism has become widespread.”
Discrimination starts from kindergarten
This can be seen, for example, in exclusionary practices in which children are labelled as coming from a “migration background” and as such, are seen as “non-homogenous” members of society.
Children’s books routinely portray minors from migrant families as “non-German”, exotic or foreign.
"Islam is an essential differentiating feature for the justification of social and societal conditions,” writes Iman Attia, a professor specialising in racism and migration at Alice Salomon University in Berlin, adding “two important elements of racism can be seen in this entanglement of levels: racism serves, on the one hand, to secure privileges and legitimise exploitation and exclusion.”
It starts with harassment and ends in violence
Murat Gumus, chairman of the Islamic Council, stresses to TRT World that the report is structured as a “solution-oriented approach” in which “concrete contact partners” in federal ministries are identified.
Gumus says the topic is not getting nearly the amount of attention it requires, adding that there were 90 reported attacks on mosques in 2018.
“This is a consequence of the harassment and discrimination that Muslims have faced for years. The problem is that words become acts of violence. Muslims are routinely insulted, mobbed and more and more frequently violently attacked on the street. The inhibition threshold to violence has never been so low," Islamrat said in a press release linked to the report.
The saddest part, Gumus says, is the increasing number of attacks in broad daylight on Muslim women wearing headscarves, adding that questionable reporting around such incidents has prevailed for more than a decade.
German federal politicians recently instituted a new law that bars young girls from covering their hair. While German politicians fuel these narratives, those who are not directly impacted by the law continue to struggle in daily life as their interactions with other Germans become increasingly interlaced with negative prejudices.