KUALA LUMPUR – Hate incidents targeting Muslims in Europe have taken on an alarming note in many countries in the region last month, according to the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC)’s Islamophobia Observatory.
It noted that incidents in France, Sweden and Germany were statistically high, and cause for serious concern with regard to the significant number of casualties.
“In the United Kingdom, the reported number of Muslim women suffering hate crimes increased by 10 per cent, while offensive insults and threats against Muslims in general has doubled, especially through social media,” said an OIC statement issued in Jeddah recently.
Meanwhile in Sweden, five Muslims were injured in an arson attack targeting a mosque in the city of Eskilstuna.
The statement said Muslim communities in Austria had suffered intense hate crimes such as assault against imams (Islamic leaders), pig’s heads discarded at mosques or schools, graffiti drawn at walls of mosques and several attacks against women wearing headscarf.
In the Netherlands, it said, mosques continued to be the target of vandalism, adding that in Germany, grassroots resistance against Islam and Muslims had reached an unprecedented level.
Meanwhile in the United States (US), Islamophobia has shown a declining trend during the month, with much lesser incidents than the two preceding months.
The statement noted that some incidents in the US last month were still of concern, such as the purposive killing of a Muslim boy in Kansas City, the intense vandalism against a mosque in St Cloud and a brutal attack on a Muslim taxi driver in Magnolia.
On a positive note, Islamophobia Observatory highlighted that other countries like Russia, India and South Africa tended to show friendly gestures towards Islam and Muslims in general.
“There were also some comforting trends in certain western countries, that burqa and veil started to be fashioned as women s dress code.
“Nevertheless, the Burqa-ban policy remains a ‘hot’ issue throughout the American and European continents,” it said.
It also noted that last month was a hard time for Muslims, especially those living as a minority group in non-Muslim countries as they were blamed or became victims of hatred over crimes initiated by terrorists or radical groups claiming to be Muslims.
Examples of such incidents include the hostage situation at Sydney s Lindt Cafï¿½ which claimed two innocent lives, the horrific attack by the Pakistani Taliban on a military-run school in Peshawar, killing 141 people and the terrorist act by Nigerian Boko Haram group kidnapping 142 women and children from a Nigerian northeast village.
The Islamophobia Observatory is an initiative of the OIC to monitor and counter Islamophobia around the world, with the first report published in 2008. – Bernama