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Muslims and Discrimination
Muslims and Discrimination

Author(s): Tufyal Choudhury
Subject(s): Politics and religion, Studies in violence and power, Ethnic Minorities Studies
Published by: CEPS Centre for European Policy Studies
Summary/Abstract: The urgent need to tackle the discrimination faced by Muslims in Europe has emerged as a key concern of European policy-makers. Discrimination is considered a significant contributor to alienation and disaffection among Muslims, a barrier to integration and a risk factor for radicalisation. Developing effective and coherent policy interventions requires a clear understanding of the nature of the discrimination faced by Muslims as well as an assessment of the strength and limitations of existing policies. The first part of this paper examines the nature of the discrimination faced by Muslims in Europe. It sets out some of the research and statistical data that are available on performance by minority groups in relation to key socio-economic indicators. While this provides important information about the disadvantages experienced by minority groups that are predominately Muslim, the paucity of information on Muslims, as a group, limits our understanding of both the disadvantages and the discrimination Muslims encounter. In examining the data, the difficulty of identifying the role of ‘discrimination’ from data is explored. Furthermore, even when there is sufficiently robust data to allow statistical regression that can identify an ‘ethnic’, ‘religion’ or ‘migrant’ penalty, the nature of discrimination that Muslims are confronted with remains complex and varied. It is suggested that the main grounds for discrimination that Muslims face vary between different Muslim groups. For some, the first order of discrimination may be on the basis of nationality, refugee or immigration status. For others, colour and racial discrimination may be prevalent and for others it may be religious discrimination. Most importantly, attempting to identify a particular area of discrimination overlooks the potential for discrimination on intersectional and multiple grounds. Finally, even when it is possible to identify religious discrimination, the experience and impact of it can vary among Muslims. A second part of this paper explores the possibilities, potential and limitations within the current EU policies aimed at tackling discrimination. It begins therefore, by setting out the developments in EU antidiscrimination legislation and policy – with a focus on the EC Directive for tackling discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief in employment (the Framework Directive) – considering the relationship between equality and discrimination. It is argued that a fundamental constraint on the use of tools provided by the legal framework is the absence of any consensus on a vision of what equality for Muslims looks like. The paper then explores some of the limitations of the Framework Directive; these include the limited scope of the application of the directive, the potential for addressing multiple or intersectional discrimination and the continuation of an approach that relies on individuals making complaints.

  • Page Range: 77-106
  • Page Count: 30
  • Publication Year: 2007
  • Language: English