On the 21st of September, the European Day Against Islamophobia, EFOMW participated in the event co-hosted by The European Parliament Intergroup on Anti-Racism and Diversity (ARDI) and the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO).

This high level event focused on gendered Islamophobia in Europe and what must be done to tackle it.

Keynote Speakers included:
Helena Dalli – European Commissioner for Equality
Michael O’Flaherty – Director, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights
Evin Incir MEP – Co-President, ARDI
Samira Rafela MEP – Co-President, ARDI
Hande Taner – Council of Europe Advisory Council on Youth Member, FEMYSO

Keynotes were followed by a questions and answers panel of experts and activists that was moderated by EFOMW’s Operation’s manager dr. Sanja Bilic.

Anna Bianchi, Fondazione L’Albero della Vita
Fatima Younsi, Collectif des 100 diplômées
Tommaso Chiamparino, European Commission Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred

In the opening speeches Members of the EU parliament shared their concerns over rise of Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslim women in Europe. Rise and normalisation of verbal and physical attacks on Muslim women in public spaces is a serious problem for whole society. MPs committed to continue working to tackle this dangerous development.

European Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, introduced the newly released EU Anti Racism Action Plan 2020-2025 and explained EU Commission’s plans for it’s implementation.

She reflected on the links between Gender Equality Strategy and Anti Racism Action Plan 2020-2025, and how the two approaches must work together to address the discrimination against Muslim women.

This action plan is result of fruitfull discussion between EU Commission, EU parliament inclusive ARDI and civil society organisations working against racism, and is an important milestone in EU’s work against racism and racial discrimination. Commissioner Dalli explained that the Action Plan sets out a conperhensive approach to tackle all forms of racism on all levels (institutional, structurally, or expressed as individuall hatred), and among the steps to be taken she mentioned: renewed efforts to ensure that existing legislation is correctly implemented, gender equality and racial justice to be mainstreamed into all EU policies, funding programs should promote racial and ethnic equality, an inretsectional approach to tackle discrimination, fight against stereotypes and work for more diversity in EU institutions.

We have to be actively anti racist- said Dally

Dalli reminded of two important directives: The Racial Equality Directive, that provides an extensive framework for combating racial or ethnic discrimination, and the Employment Equality Directive that prohibiting discrimination based on religion or belief (among other grounds). EU Commission is also committed to continue working towards adoption of the horisontal anti discrimination directive, which was proposed by EU commission in 2008 but still not adopted by the EU council.

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) director Michael O’Flaherty welcomed the Anti racism action plan and highlighted that it will need to be implemented smartly, and that attention should be payed to: 1.Tipography of discrimination (not just generalised racism but diversity of forms where attention need to be dedicated to fenomenon of Islamophobia) 2. Take in to account diversity of Muslim communities in EU member states 3. Particular experience of Muslim women.

He reminded of the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Asma Jahangir from 2006 end encouraged all to read it as it can help us map the way forward in work against racism and intersectional discrimination.
“Racism, Islamophobia, misogyny are not the problem of persecuted peoples”, O’Flaherty explained. “They are shared problems of our entire societies. We within our societies must change and confront our own racism, Islamophobia, misogyny if we are to make any meaningfull progress.”

FRA will continue to support actions and work to confront these issues. We all together play our roles in achieving the Union of Equality, concluded O’Flaherty

In the expert panel we could hear about a paneuropean project findings that shows how misrepresentation of Muslim women and negative narratives shapes stereotypes and disorted picture of Muslim women; about initiatives in Belgium to fight discrimination of Muslim women in higher education, and initiatives that European Commission Coordinator on combating anti-Muslim hatred is taking in his work.
EC coordinator Tommaso Chiamparino also welcomed the new Action Plan against racism, which he means can stranghten the framework in wich EU Commission Coordinator is working. As one of the steps in future work he informed about EU Commission’s cooperation with European Federation of Journalists and aboout planned trainings and capacity building for jounalists triying to foster balanced storytelling when it comes to Muslim, to avoid stereotyping and also to activelly advocate for these issues.

Panel discussed what need to be done to tackle Islamophobia and concluded that firm steps and concrete action need to be taken on all levels in society to tackle this problem. Continued dialog between EU institutions and civil society is one of the important steps in this process.

EFOMW will continue to work with all stakeholders and closely follow development on implementation of EU anti-racism action plan 2020-2025.

The event was live streamed on Facebook and YouTube. Watch the event here