"The fight against Islamophobia which is ravaging Europe necessarily must pass by way of a legal definition and the creation of a legal arsenal at the European scale," pleaded Wednesday, in Strasbourg, at the Council of Europe (CoE), the association Organization Racism Islamophobia Watch (ORIW), raising an issue that stirs up polemics among the political ranks as much as within activist associations.
"It is all of our responsibilities, regardless of our beliefs, to fight against a phenomenon which undermines togetherness and saps social cohesion. The CoE, the European Parliament (EP), the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) all have a crucial role to play in order to contribute to a legal definition of Islamophobia.
It is an essential condition for the struggle to bear fruit," affirmed islamologist Yanis Mahil during an event organized alongside the summer plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). There is strong consensus in regards to the gravity and the steep increase of anti-Muslim acts, especially since the deadly attacks in Paris that occurred in January of this year.
In the two weeks that followed, France saw as many anti-Muslim acts as during the entire year of 2014, at an increase of 70 percent. Between Jan. 7 and 19, the Interior Ministry counted 116 such acts. For the first time, these figures surpass those of Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), which is often accused of alarmism.
Beyond the semantic quarrel is hidden a lack of courage from public authorities, affirmed Yanis Mahil, who cites sociologist Abdellali Hajjat, author of a work on Islamophobia published in 2013: "It's usage is revealing of the will, or not, to recognize the existence of racist acts and discourses founded on a supposed affiliation with the Muslim religion."
"Islamophobia has several faces and several forms. It is a group of prejudices, of fears and hatreds against Muslims which translate themselves into acts of violence, discriminations and stigmatizations due to their affiliation real or supposed with Islam," maintains the islamologist.
"Islamophobia is different from a simple anti-religious or anti-immigrant sentiment," interjected the coordinator of the ORIW association which has been working since 2013 for recognition of the term.
Source"The French Consulting Commission on Human Rights validated the term in 2014. A clear definition at an international level would undeniably allow things to move forward. Recognition by the Council of Europe would help enormously," she added.