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Muslim Africans face discrimination in Germany, says UN panel

31st Mar 2017
Muslim Africans face discrimination in Germany, says UN panel

Chair of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent Ricardo Sunga (Photo Evan Schneider/UN)

Elham Asaad Buaras

Muslims of African descent face discrimination, Afrophobia and racial profiling in Germany, but their ordeal remains largely invisible to the wider society, a UNs expert panel reported on February 27 at the end of its first fact-finding visit to the country.

“Muslims of African descent are facing increasingly difficult times in the enjoyment of their rights due to increased Islamophobia and Afrophobia,” said Ricardo Sunga, who chairs the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. While praising Germany’s promotion of human rights and diversity, Sunga expressed concern over widespread problems faced by Africans and said Muslim Africans often become victims of discrimination in the workplace or in schools.

Referring to discrimination against Muslim women due to their Muslim dress (hijab) Sunga said, “Muslim women of African descent face further discrimination when it comes to access to the labour market,” he said.

“Many Muslim students of African descent describe their experiences in school as traumatic as they experience not only anti-Black racism but also anti-Muslim racism,” he also added. The UN’s expert group visited Germany last month to monitor the human rights situation of people of African descent in Germany, whose population estimated at 800,000.

He also explained that institutional racism and racist stereotyping by the criminal justice system has led to a failure to effectively investigate and prosecute perpetrators of racist violence, racial profiling and hate crimes against people of African descent.

“The repeated denial that racial profiling does not exist in Germany by police authorities and the lack of an independent complaint mechanism at federal and state level fosters impunity,” said Sunga. The panel visited Berlin, Dessau, Dresden, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Düsseldorf, Cologne and Hamburg from February 20 to 27, to gain first-hand knowledge on discriminatory practices affecting people of African descent in Germany.

“There is a serious lack of ethnicity-based disaggregated data, and an incomplete understanding of history, which obscure the magnitude of structural and institutional racism people of African descent face,” Sunga said.

During the eight-day mission, the human rights experts engaged with representatives of the German Federal and State authorities, representatives of national and provincial human rights institutions and civil society. The delegation welcomed ongoing efforts by the administration to address racial discrimination faced by people of African descent.

The Working group will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

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