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Dramatic increase in antisemitism, Islamophobia, online hate speech: annual report from Council of Europe’s anti-racism commission

July 9th 2015

With conflicts in the Middle East, acts of Islamist violence in Europe and incidents of unprecedented mass arrivals of migrants, the annual report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) identifies a dramatic increase in antisemitism, Islamophobia, online hate speech and xenophobic political discourse as main trends in 2014.

Insults and physical attacks on Jewish persons and institutions increased significantly, with their number having more than doubled in some countries, according to the report. Tensions rose after renewed violence in the Middle East in 2014 and have led to widespread animosity against Jews in general. Growing antisemitic trends have, in addition, been observed in Muslim immigrant communities, mainly among young people.

With regard to homo- and transphobia, the report describes a varied picture, with progress in some countries and problems in others where LGBT people still experience unacceptably high levels of stigma, intolerance and discrimination.

In certain countries, the report attests to a growing trend of denying World War II collaborationist regimes’ complicity in the Holocaust, paired with revived sympathies for the extreme right.

Islamophobia is reported in many countries, counteracting integration efforts for inclusive European societies. According to the report the rise of extremism and in violent Islamist movements has been manipulated by populist politicians to portray Muslims in general as unable or unwilling to integrate and therefore as a security threat.

Furthermore, anti-migration public discourse was increasingly exploited in populist politics, as ongoing civil war in Syria – and conflicts, insecurity and poverty in other parts of Asia and Africa – led to a significant increase in the flow of asylum seekers and migrants entering Europe who received insufficient assistance and faced hostile public opinion in most European countries.

In its report, ECRI deplores a rapid increase of hate speech disseminated through social media, and encourages member States to sign and ratify the Council of Europe’s Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime criminalising racist and xenophobic acts committed online.

Only 18 out of the 47 states of the Council of Europe have ratified Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting discrimination in general. ECRI calls on all remaining states to ratify this instrument as soon as possible.

Cooperation with national Specialised Bodies to combat racism and racial discrimination

The report highlights its collaboration with strategic partners as particularly important.

  • National Specialised Bodies are strategic partners for ECRI. A seminar of national Specialised Bodies was held from 22-23 May 2014 in Strasbourg. This seminar examined the role of national Specialised Bodies in supporting local authorities in
    the fight against racism and intolerance. The seminar’s participants represented almost all member States’ national Specialised Bodies, national Ombudsmen, representatives of regional and local authorities and a number of international
    organisations.
  • In addition, ECRI participated in a European Round Table on Racial/Ethnic Profiling at Police Controls, organised by the German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency in Berlin in June 2014. ECRI continued co-operation with the European Network
    of Equality Bodies (EQUINET). ECRI reports make regular reference to EQUINET studies. The Executive Director of EQUINET participated in ECRI’s seminar with national Specialised Bodies.

ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination); it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.

Download the ECRI Report on the Council of Europe - ECRI Webpage