The scourge of Islamophobia is continuing to spread across Europe and most alarmingly appears to show no signs of abating with one country already effectively outlawing Muslims having any religious rights. The frightening trend is being shepherded by political leaders and comes at a time when most governments seem to be seeking to appease US President-elect Donald Trump before he officially takes over next month.
As reported in this month’s issue, the Slovakian Parliament last month adopted legislation to effectively bar Islam from gaining official status in the country. The bill requires a religion to have at least 50,000 members, up from 20,000, to qualify for state subsidies and to run its own schools. It will make it virtually impossible to register Islam as there are only 2,000 Muslims in Slovakia according to the last census and there are no recognised mosques.
Following similar bans in France and Belgium, MPs in the Netherlands have also voted overwhelmingly (132 out of 150) for a partial ban on face veils from some public places. The ruling Liberal-Labour coalition has denied the law is religiously motivated, claiming it was a public safety and health issue.
The new legislative plans coincide with a new report finding that hate crimes against Muslims tripled last year. According to the Anne Frank foundation, police recorded 446 incidents involving verbal or physical attacks on Muslims in 2015, compared with 142 in the previous 12 months.
In Germany, Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is not being outdone as she calls for the niqab to be outlawed in the country ahead of next year’s elections. She is seeking her fourth term and previously insisted that a ban was not appropriate in Germany, saying it was a question of finding the right political and legal balance.