Europe’s growing religious diversity is creating social and legal tensions that cry out for reform, but even a European Union seeking solutions may not have the political will to implement them.
That was the impression given this week when researchers for a three-year EU-funded study of discrimination and other problems faced by minority faiths in member countries presented some of their proposals to European Commission officials.
The findings of the survey were clear: minority religions, especially Islam, face growing job discrimination and many restrictions in the public sphere. This hinders integration and could eventually put a drag on the EU economy, it said.
“If you don’t respect these people’s desire to combine their citizenship and work with their religious identity, you exclude them and lose their potential,” said Marie-Claire Foblets, the Catholic University of Leuven anthropologist who heads the Religare research project.