Muslims in Europe face discrimination: Amnesty

Published: April 24, 2012

Amnesty urges European governments to do more to challenge negative stereotypes and prejudices against Islam.

LONDON: European countries are discriminating against Muslims for demonstrating their faith, especially in the fields of education and employment, rights group Amnesty International said Tuesday.

In a report focusing on Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland, Amnesty urged European governments to do more to challenge negative stereotypes and prejudices against Islam.

The report was particularly critical of countries that have brought in outright bans on face-covering veils or on the wearing of religious symbols in schools.

“Rather than countering these prejudices, political parties and public officials are all too often pandering to them in their quest for votes,” said Marco Perolini, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination.

“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.”

The Amnesty report comes two days after the anti-immigrant National Front achieved a record score for the party in the first round of France’s presidential election, with 18 percent of voters backing leader Marine Le Pen.

The report, titled “Choice and prejudice: discrimination against Muslims in Europe”, says legislation prohibiting discrimination in employment has not been properly implemented in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.

Employers had been allowed to ban religious or cultural symbols on the grounds that they would annoy clients or colleagues, or that it conflicts with a company’s corporate image or supposed neutrality, it said.

Amnesty said this was in direct conflict with European Union law.

“EU 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,” Perolini said.

This was especially true among Muslim women of foreign origin, he added.

In the last decade school pupils have been banned from wearing headscarves or other traditional religious dress in countries including Spain, France, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands, Amnesty said.

The group also criticised Switzerland for a 2009 ban on the construction of new minarets for mosques.

It said that in Spain’s Catalonia region many Muslims had to pray in outdoor areas because authorities were rejecting applications to build mosques on the grounds that they were incompatible with Catalan traditions and culture.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Mazhar
    Apr 24, 2012 - 3:29PM

    Even muslim countries are treating the minorities the same way,why cry now.


  • Ohoo
    Apr 24, 2012 - 4:38PM

    Non muslims are treated like second class citizens and are denied the even basic rights in Muslim countries.What do you say about it?.Amnesty International is another face of liberals. Discrimination of Muslims happens in Europe but Muslims have asked the question why?.Simple when you go to other countries,you obey the law,try to learn the language,embrace their culture,integrate into society.Above all,most muslims always abuse the welfare state.They think its their right to get welfare and have children like crazy when they not even earning.Finally you cannot wear burqas and say freedom of religion i have the right to cover my face.When you arrive in Europe leave your religion at home and mix with local population everything will be fine.


  • Pakistani Muslim
    Apr 24, 2012 - 4:44PM

    discrimination exists in each & every society… those who don’t recognize it are living in fools paradise


  • AIN
    Apr 24, 2012 - 4:46PM

    Agreed..Muslims went to these countries for batter lifer which they cant get in a muslims country..If muslims unite and made batter places to live then no one will ever try to be away from his/her land.


  • Mumbai Dude
    Apr 24, 2012 - 5:03PM

    Amnesty should speak about the rights of non-muslims in iran and saudi arabia before coming to belgium or spain.


  • Amjad
    Apr 24, 2012 - 5:35PM

    Most of these Muslims went to Europe illegaly after smuggling themselves in boats and trucks. Then they had to make up a story of persecution to claim asylum since there is no real immigration plan for European countries. They have made their own bed by doing illegal things, so now they get the fruit of their labour.


  • Kbps
    Apr 24, 2012 - 5:39PM

    The hypocrisy is that most Muslims practice the very same negative traits in European countries that they could not tolerate in their own countries. Why blame Europeans for disliking them!!!!


  • Ebrahim
    Apr 24, 2012 - 5:51PM

    Discrimination is indeed a fact of life for Muslims in Western countries. The prejudice that we face at certain times can be very bearing. European countries have taken the lead in ensuring the human rights around the world, so it is imperative that they work towards eliminating this last bit of hypocrisy from their society

    Having said that, the situation is much worse in Islamic countries. Non-muslims can not even hope for a decent and respectable life in countries like Saudi Arabia. Even in Pakistan Christians and Hindus pay with their life for the only “fault” of non being Muslim. While we definitely need to condemn the discrimination in western countries, let’s not forget that life is still better in these countries – a fact acknowledged my larger scale emigration from Pakistan.


  • Cautious
    Apr 24, 2012 - 6:16PM

    Discrimination can’t be that bad as there seems to be a never ending flow of Muslims trying to immigrate (legally or illegally) to the West.


  • vickram
    Apr 24, 2012 - 6:53PM

    You go as an immigrant looking for better life there.

    What you do after landing ? You ask for special privileges. Halal meat, Islamic banking, mosques at every corner, Friday holidays, Permission for prayers at office, Permission for wearing special dresses, Permission for loud call in mosque, and Shariah. Then you find fault with the hosts for their loud music, for their culture, for their music, and their way of life. Finally you issue death threats to the hosts when they start waking up to the dangers of such immigration policies.

    Then you complain that you are being discriminated. Strange !


  • vasan
    Apr 24, 2012 - 7:36PM

    Muslims or for that matter migrants should assimilate with the local culture, language, tradition and way of life. Otherwise migrants will face discrimination. Let them go back to lands from where they came. Why bring in religion here?? Because it is muslims who do not want to assimiliate and want to enforce their way of life once the migrant muslim population attains a critical mass.


  • Faisal
    Apr 24, 2012 - 7:48PM

    Islam is not only just another religion but it’s a way of life based on certain principles which requires honesty and purety in every aspect of an individual’s character. For the past few decades the muslim way of life has been a major source of attracting people’s attention towards it in every corner of the world because it does not tend to surrender few basic principles of Haraam and Halaal irrespective of the fact that which part of the world you live and which makes it the most rapidly growing religion in the world and that’s the main reason of intolerance against it in few parts of Europe.


  • Faisal
    Apr 24, 2012 - 8:25PM

    Amnesty Int’l is a renowned global organization and it has been doing a remarkable effort for human rights ragardless of religion or race around the world but It’s shocking to see that some people can’t even digest it’s little concern towards muslims rights in Europe.


  • Verticaljoy
    Apr 24, 2012 - 8:48PM

    From comments it looks like the “Amnesty ” have said something wrong, for the FIRST time in history. Everything else said by them about what is happening in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq etc against human rights is TRUE.


    Apr 24, 2012 - 8:52PM

    Why are you guys always jeolous of muslims.If an organization seems to speak the truth,which is very rare in the case where muslims are in involved,why do you always poke your noses and give comments like these.


  • Raj
    Apr 24, 2012 - 9:17PM

    @Mumbai Dude:
    Amnesty won’t do that. Do you know why? Because those Muslim countries will not give a damn to those reports. Those countries will kick them out if they even try to project the truth and Amnesty have much less presence and coverage in those areas. Amnesty will however continue to report about West, India and other liberal countries because they allow them to publish their reports even if it’s against the host and that’s how it should be. Let the truth be told because as humans we should learn to coexist with different culture without imposing ourselves. But the problem is that this partial highlight of discrimination will conceal the actual truth and is quite dangerous in nature. It questions the very credibility of Amnesty.

    Let’s take the example of this blog and it’s people itself. Many Pakistanis reading this blog will cry foul and very rightly so because we need to respect individual liberty of practicing religion. But the same Pakistanis will never come to know the level of discrimination that is carried out against the minorities in pan Islamic countries and will always have a illusion of moral high ground against non-Muslim nations.


  • Freeman
    Apr 24, 2012 - 9:40PM

    @Raj: My dear Amenisty International is not muslim organisation. They majority of time criticize Islamic countries about human rights violation. I first time saw they criticized European countries for human rights violations. Now look everyone is started to cry including Indian trolls. Indian have very high level of human rights violation and european and American ignore them because of Europe and American’s need Indian huge market for their products to sell. Otherwise the crimes agaisnt humanity In india is happening no other country can beat them. You can check poor Moist Nexus, Genocide In Kashmir, Bhehari’s, Tamils, Indian Punjab where they have done massacre in Golden temple. We can count it.

    Indian should not think that they will be able hide all these violations very long. Soon world will turn to your way and your true face will be exposed. Recommend

  • PakistaniMuslim
    Apr 24, 2012 - 9:49PM

    “Amnesty will however continue to report about West, India and other liberal countries…”

    Please don’t call yourself Liberals or Tolerable while everyone in the World including yourself knows how deep ‘Discrimination’ lies in your society.

    We are not pure either but at least our religion condemned discrimination while Caste System is evidently a proof of open-discrimination in India. And yes, if India is still pure then why PM Manmohan Singh last year ordered a commission to look into the matter of discrimination within the society and especially against Muslims in India?

    Dhoodh key dhuley tou aap bhi nahi hain!


  • Raj
    Apr 24, 2012 - 10:46PM

    @PakistaniMuslim –

    “Dhoodh key dhuley tou aap bhi nahi hain!”

    Absolutely and I am not denying it. We have lot of problems and probably even more than you guys. But what I am saying is that a significant section of that gets reported and there is an intent to sort it out. Can you honestly say that is the case in Muslim countries as well? I don’t think so because in most Muslim countries they always have the illusion of righteousness and very less introspection(barring few individuals). They are so much submerged in those ideas, that they believe that to restrict the kafir to pray within his house accounts to righteous treatment .

    Yes in India there are Babri Masjid incidents, yes there are Gujrat riots, yes the Indian government and army have committed human right violations but at the same time you should know that these are minoroty incidents in our history. I am not saying these anomalies should be forgotten, instead we should introspect and try to learn from our mistakes and put the guilty to justice. But tell me honestly do you think that in Muslim majority countries , they really treat the minorities better than what they themselves receive as minorities in non-Muslim countries?

    And finally speaking about caste systems, yes it’s shameful how they are practiced in India. However probably you don’t know the vision and scientific reason based on which it was introduced in ancient India and it’s initial days of implementation and how in medieval India it was hijacked by the rulers and priests to fulfill their ambitions. And let me tell you that such practices is diminishing rapidly throughout India and in another 30-50 years you will rarely find such discriminations except in few minute pockets.


  • Raj
    Apr 24, 2012 - 10:58PM

    @Freeman –

    Otherwise the crimes agaisnt humanity In india is happening no other country can beat them. You can check poor Moist Nexus, Genocide In Kashmir, Bhehari’s, Tamils, Indian Punjab where they have done massacre in Golden temple. We can count it.

    I see that’s what they teach you in your schools. Do one thing , do some research in the Internet. You will find plenty of Pakistanis who used to think like you because they were programmed to think like that by your political/military leadership and how they were shocked and their entire belief got changed when they came out of that system and started interacting with multiple sources of knowledge which are not just limited to your country. Maybe one day you will undergo such transformation as well.

    Indian should not think that they will be able hide all these violations very long. Soon world will turn to your way and your true face will be exposed.

    On the contrary I can assure you that as and when more such incidents get exposed, my country and it’s people will acknowledge it ,oppose it and will fight tooth and nail to make things better. Yes I do agree in International forums we may try to be protective and at times play it diplomatically but back home we see that right measures are taken to minimize such incidents.


  • Apr 24, 2012 - 11:39PM

    Discrimination happens everywhere…!


  • Umer
    Apr 24, 2012 - 11:50PM

    Amnesty is trying to scare Muslims away form Europe. Great. :)


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Apr 24, 2012 - 11:51PM

    People should not make hue and cry about Muslim discrimination in European Countries as Muslims are discriminated even in number of Muslims Countries.

    For example, Muslims of Pakistan are discriminated in all Arab World, as they treated as “Kharjees” and do not have the equal rights of of “Watanees”.


  • raj-a
    Apr 25, 2012 - 12:35AM

    I dont know why people and especially indians are defending europe for this.. Point is that until we all or atleast a good enuf number of us wont call anything that is wrong a wrong, this world can not be a better place.

    btw when in pakistan a prime ministerial candidate and head of 2nd largest political party lead and participated in destruction of a non muslim worship place?

    When in pakistan a sitting chief minister lead butchering of non muslims and rape of their women, like we saw in gujrat?

    When we in pakistan have even voted for a butcher like modi? I best hafiz saeed wont win a local gov election in pakostan while in india modi might become a prime minister.

    Peace.. And love ::)


  • leila rage
    Apr 25, 2012 - 12:37AM

    so muslims are discriminated against abroad. Who cares? we are discriminated against in PAKISTAN even in case we dont conform to certain people’s way of thinking.


  • The Truth
    Apr 25, 2012 - 12:40AM

    A slap on the facea of liberals supporting these West.


  • Nawab
    Apr 25, 2012 - 1:55AM

    We will not be respected on the world stage if Pakistan is weak. Strengthen Pakistan first!Recommend

  • gp65
    Apr 25, 2012 - 3:25AM

    ““EU 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,” Perolini said”.

    Well once there are sufficient numbers of Muslims working for an organization they start demanding
    – halaal food in office cafeteria (no-one stops them from bringing halaal food from home)
    – prayer rooms in office
    – special concessions during Ramzaan etc.
    These lead to economic costs that the companies are unwilling to bear. If the Muslims were willing to work in the same work environment as others (Christians,Hindus, Buddists, atheists), they would find no employment discrimination.


  • Razi
    Apr 25, 2012 - 7:15AM

    “Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbor’s roof when your own doorstep is unclean” – Confucius.

    We are complaining about discrimination of Muslims by non-Muslims in Europe, what about discrimination of Muslims BY Muslims going on a daily basis in Pakistan?


  • Hakeem
    Apr 25, 2012 - 7:41AM

    Those folks who are trying to justify EU injustices with Pakistani society’s attitudes are not being logical because EU believes in freedom of faith, freedom of expression, personal freedoms, this is their moto and they claim to be the flag bearer of these values where as in Pakistan people do not believe in those values, people in Pakistan believe in Islam and traditional values in society hence comparison is flawed.
    EU are simply acknowledging the fact they have failed in upholding the values that they so much own where as in Pakistan people uphold what they believe in!


  • j. von hettlingen
    Apr 25, 2012 - 7:42PM

    There was a ruling from the Swiss Supreme Court in 2008 which rejected the appeal of a Muslim family from Tunisa that wanted to have their two sons exempted from compulsory swimming lessons


  • G. Din
    Apr 26, 2012 - 2:40AM

    “We will not be respected on the world stage if Pakistan is weak. Strengthen Pakistan first!”
    Soviet Union was quite a strong power but was never respected. It is only when it learnt to get along with the world around it, it gained respect. No one gives a hoot how strong you are. Learn to get along with your neighbours and every one else and not try to be smart by a half!
    “When we in pakistan have even voted for a butcher like modi? “
    Use your words with care, otherwise you are likely to be ignored. Do you, not living in Gujarat, consider yourself wiser than the entire population of Gujarat, which elects Modi repeatedly? Or, do you think that everyone in Gujarat is a “butcher”? No amount of your vilifying Modi will take away the sheen he has acquired by his hard work and consummate administrative skills. Even your Pakistan Chamber of Commerce has recognized it and invited him to Karachi.


  • Yash
    Apr 26, 2012 - 12:12PM


    freedom has a limit….


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