Ethnic profiling is a common occurance at airport security / Lehtikuva

International news
Discrimination against Muslims in European counter-terrorism efforts has helped to create an environment in which Muslims are more likely to be the subject of hate speech and attacks, Amnesty International and Open Society Foundations said in a guide published tomorrow.


The Human Rights Guide for Researching Racial and Religious Discrimination in Counter-Terrorism in Europe is aimed at those working in the human rights or anti-discrimination fields. It highlights how the lawful activities and affiliations of Muslims have been used to justify surveillance, arrest, expulsion, nationality-stripping, counter-radicalisation measures and other restrictions on their rights.


“In the never-ending ‘War on Terror’, Muslims continue to endure ethnic profiling and are disproportionately subjected to surveillance, limitations on their movements, arrest and deportation,” said Eda Seyhan, the author of the research guide.


“The targeting of Muslims with counter-terrorism measures by European governments has reinforced the racist view that Islam is a ‘threat’, creating an environment where hate speech against Muslims has been normalised.”


Being the target of a discriminatory counter-terrorism measure can cause fear, anxiety and trauma, with potential long-lasting effects including contributing to diminished self-esteem, depression, psychological distress, and anxiety.


Despite widespread acknowledgement of this issue from UN and European institutions, discrimination has generally received less attention from human rights groups and oversight bodies than other human rights violations in the counter-terrorism context, partly because it is difficult to prove.


The disparate impact of COVID-19 measures on minorities and the securitisation of the public health response have further highlighted the need to challenge discrimination in counter-terrorism. In addition, the recent Black Lives Matter protests have prompted many organisations to reassess their contribution to antiracism.


This guide encourages civil society bodies to redouble their efforts to combat discrimination specifically in the counter-terrorism context and equips readers with the tools to challenge systemic racism and threats to religious freedom in that realm.
“To be effective allies in the fight against Islamophobia, human rights organisations must be able to identify and challenge counter-terrorism laws and policies that discriminate against Muslims – this guide is a tool to aid that struggle,” said Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks.


The guide recommends a major rethink on how to address counter-terrorism measures within the European Union, and that Muslim communities have a voice at the table. These calls are especially relevant in light of the recently released EU Counter-Terrorism Agenda and further legislative developments in France and Austria that unduly single out law-abiding European Muslims.


“We hope through this guide, organisations and oversight bodies will prove current counter-terrorism measures fuel systemic racism against Muslims and, ultimately, both how counterproductive these measures are, and how ineffective,” said Cristina Goñi, Regional Manager for Security Policy at the Open Society Foundations.