The experience of equality bodies shows that Muslims are often victims of discrimination in the fields of employment, goods and services, education, manifesting religion and belief in public and public administration and state functions. A number of other key issues connected to intolerance and discrimination against Muslims are also evident from this experience. This includes ethnic profiling by authorities; hate speech, especially online hate speech connected with the normalisation of Islamophobia; underreporting; and the lack of trust in equality bodies. A relatively new and growing challenge is the impact of counter-terrorism legislation on intolerance and (institutional) discrimination against Muslims.
The gravity of the situation of Muslims makes it important for equality bodies to act and to do so in cooperation with other relevant stakeholders. Equality bodies across Europe carry out different activities according to their mandates and resources and some of them are already engaged with civil society organisations in the field. Enhancing these efforts for cooperation with civil society are all the more important in order to help address the key challenges of underreporting and the lack of trust in equality bodies mentioned above.
In order to build such links between national equality bodies and civil society organisations, Equinet, the European Network of Equality Bodies, together with the European Commission (the Commission’s coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred) organised an online workshop on 25-26 January. The workshop built upon a high-level political event held on 18 June 2020 co-organised with both partners and the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
In particular, the workshop had the following objectives:
With over 60 participants from 22 countries, representing civil society organisations, equality bodies and European and international organisations, discussions were very fruitful. One of the main outcomes of the meeting will be a list of actions for cooperation that can be used to increase cooperation at national level.