“Anti-Muslim rhetoric online as dangerous as street attacks”
Anti-Muslim hate speech expressed on the Internet is as dangerous as attacks in the streets, according to a study conducted by the Council of Europe.
The study, carried out by Daniel Holtgen, director of communications, special representative on anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and other forms of religious intolerance and hate crimes, which was carried out among Muslim organizations in eight European countries, focused on focused on hate rhetoric online.
The countries included Germany, France and Great Britain.
During a briefing in Berlin, Holtgen said this is a dangerous path and Muslims frequently face death threats online. He noted that calls for violence against Muslims cannot be considered within the framework of freedom of expression.
While hate speech is generally posted anonymously, people openly sharing anti-Muslim messages using their names are on the increase, Holtgen said, adding that some segments of society find it acceptable to insult and use hate speech against Muslims.
The special representative also noted that Muslim organizations in these countries believe that states are not taking enough action to protect Muslims from anti-Muslim attacks, as many public institutions are not sufficiently sensitized on the issue.
The president of the Central Council of Muslims of Germany, Aiman Mazyek, also criticized European countries for rarely taking anti-Muslim hate crimes seriously. Calling the current state of events “worrisome,” Mazyek said more than 1,000 anti-Muslim hate crimes were committed last year.
Every two days during the year 2019, a mosque, a Muslim institution or a religious representative in Germany has been the target of anti-Muslim attacks, according to an investigation by the German Left Party (Die Linke).
Germany has seen a rise in racism and anti-Muslim hatred in recent years, fueled by propaganda from neo-Nazi groups and the far-right opposition party Alternative for Germany (AfD). Germany is home to 81 million people and is home to the second largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Of the nearly 4.7 million Muslims in the country, at least 3 million are of Turkish origin.
Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have frequently urged European policymakers and politicians to take a stand against racism and other types of discrimination that have threatened the lives of millions living within the bloc’s borders. .
For example, communications director Fahrettin Altun said European racists hide behind words like freedom and democracy to incite violence against Muslims.
Racist attacks targeting Muslims or immigrants in Europe are increasingly making headlines as white supremacists become more effective at a time when their ideals, or at least some of them, become mainstream. There is not a single large group orchestrating these attacks on Muslims and immigrants. On the contrary, individual attacks lead to more copy attacks.
The tolerant political climate under the guise of free speech helped far-right supporters with violent tendencies to broaden their support.