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European Muslims face growing discrimination – OSI report

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French far-right party protests against mosque in Marseille, 16 Nov 2009/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Muslims are facing increased discrimination across Europe and urgent action needs to be taken at local, national and EU levels to tackle the problem, according to a report published on Tuesday.

The Open Society Institute, a private foundation set up by billionaire financier George Soros, said many Muslims suffered unfair treatment along with social and economic disadvantages, despite being integral to the cities in which they lived.

“Europe needs to live up to its promise of an inclusive, open society,” said Nazia Hussain, director of OSI’s At Home in Europe project. “Switzerland’s recent ban on minarets is a clear sign that anti-Muslim sentiment is a real problem in Europe.”

The OSI report, based on more than 2,000 interviews in 11 cities in seven countries — the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Britain, France and Sweden — said Muslims faced higher unemployment, had lower-paid jobs and suffered higher poverty rates. Some Muslim pupils faced racism and prejudice, and were confronted by lower expectations from teachers.

GUESTVIEW: European liberals – stand up and speak out in Islam debate

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Posters for minaret ban at Zurich train station, 26 Oct 2009/Arnd Wiegmann

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Dr H.A. Hellyer is Fellow of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations, University of Warwick, author of “Muslims of Europe: the ‘Other’ Europeans”and Director of the Visionary Consultants Group.

By Dr H.A. Hellyer

The real inheritors of European liberalism need to stand up and make themselves known because the struggle to maintain pluralism in Europe is only going to get tougher from here on in.

People will differ as to when they started, and why, and who is to blame. But one thing is for sure. The problems in Europe around the Muslim presence are not going to go away – they are going to intensify. And real European liberals are going to have make their voices be counted, or say farewell to a Europe that fought so hard to ensure civil liberties and freedom could find homes on the continent.