New FRA report examines discrimination against Muslims

Data in Focus Report 2: Muslims
Data in Focus Report 2: Muslims
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) today releases a report on discrimination against Muslims in the EU. The findings form part of the first ever EU-wide survey on immigrant and ethnic minority groups' experiences of discrimination and racist crime ("EU MIDIS"). The results for Muslim respondents indicate similarly high levels of discrimination and victimisation as for other minority groups surveyed. Many racist incidents are not reported to the police or to any other organisation. Knowledge of anti-discrimination legislation is low, and there is a lack of trust in complaints mechanisms. Muslims surveyed do not consider religion to be the main reason for their discrimination. The findings also showed that wearing traditional or religious clothing did not increase the likelihood of discrimination. The FRA calls on EU governments to tackle the situation of discrimination by making people aware about how to make a complaint, improving the recording of discrimination and racist crime, better informing people of their rights, allocating more resources to integration measures, especially for youth, and strengthening the role and capacity of accessible mechanisms for reporting racist incidents.

On average 1 in 3 Muslim respondents were discriminated against in the past 12 months, and 11% experienced a racist crime. The highest levels of discrimination occurred in employment.

FRA Director Morten Kjaerum: "The high levels of discrimination in employment are worrying. Employment is a key part of the integration process. It is central to the contributions that migrants make to society, and to making such contributions visible. Discrimination may hamper the integration process".

Under-reporting and lack of trust in public authorities

In common with other minority groups, most Muslim respondents (79%) do not report discriminatory incidents and cases of racist crime to any organisation - State-run, including the police, or NGOs. Young Muslim respondents, in particular, indicate that they have little faith in the police as a public service. People without citizenship and those who have lived in the country for the shortest period of time are less likely to report discrimination.

Overall, 59% of Muslim respondents believe that ‘nothing would happen or change by reporting', and 38% say that ‘it happens all the time' and therefore they do not make the effort to report incidents.

Morten Kjaerum: "This raises a number of important questions: Is there a passive acceptance of discrimination as a fact of life? How does this affect social integration and community cohesion? What can be done to increase trust in public authorities and the police? Public authorities have a responsibility to support the integration process. This includes making people more aware of their rights. All victims of racism must have access to justice - not only in theory, but also in practice".

The survey also asked questions about contact with law enforcement bodies, so as to identify possible experiences of discriminatory treatment. On average, 25% of Muslim respondents stated that they had been stopped by the police in the last 12 months. Of those who had been stopped, 40% considered that they were stopped on the basis of their ethnicity (‘ethnic profiling').

Ethnicity is the main reason for discrimination

Of those Muslim respondents who experienced discrimination in the past 12 months, the majority believed that this was mainly due to their ethnic background. Only 10% stated that they thought the discrimination they experienced was based solely on their religion. In fact, wearing traditional or religious clothing (such as a headscarf) does not appear to increase the likelihood of being discriminated against.

Morten Kjaerum: "Overall, the results suggest that Muslims are treated very differently, dependent on both their ethnic origin and their country of residence. Wearing traditional clothing hardly increases discrimination. Those with citizenship and longer residence periods experience less discrimination. For example, 41% of male Muslim respondents without citizenship indicated that they had experienced discrimination, as opposed to 27% of male Muslim citizens".

He concluded: "Truly accessible mechanisms are needed, where victims of racism can report in confidence. We therefore urge Member States to improve the recording of discrimination and racist crime, and to further strengthen the role and capacity of support structures. For example, Member States must ensure that that the national Equality Bodies can carry out their mandates and combat discrimination effectively".

The "Data in Focus Report 2: Muslims" can be found at

Contact: FRA Media Team
Tel.: +43 1 58030-642

Notes to editors:

"EU-MIDIS - Minorities and Discrimination Survey": The findings of the "Data in Focus Report 2: Muslims" form part of the first ever EU-wide survey on immigrant and ethnic minority groups' experiences of discrimination and racist crime ("EU MIDIS"). The FRA conducted this major representative survey (executed by GALLUP) in 2008, to examine experiences of discriminatory treatment, criminal victimisation including racially motivated crime, rights awareness, and reporting of complaints. Data is needed to measure social inclusion of ethnic minorities and immigrant groups, as well as the extent of discriminatory treatment and criminal victimisation, including racially motivated crime, experienced by minorities. 23,500 persons of ethnic minority or immigrant background were interviewed. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with a random sample of respondents from selected ethnic minority and immigrant groups in all 27 EU Member States, using the same standard questionnaire.

"Data in Focus Report 2: Muslims": This EU-MIDIS report on Muslims provides data on how Muslims across the EU experience discrimination and victimisation. It covers 14 Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and The Netherlands. It covers Muslim respondents with diverse ethnic origins (for example, North and Sub-Saharan African, Turkish, Iraqi, and ex-Yugoslavian). 24% of the Muslims surveyed were born in their EU country of residence, and 52% had lived there for more than 10 years.

More EU-MIDIS reports: During 2009, the Agency will release further ‘Data in Focus' reports on specific minority groups and key issues examined in the survey. A final report from the survey will be released in December 2009, and it is planned to release the dataset from the survey in the first half of 2010.

Already available at

  • "EU MIDIS at a glance" (April 2009)
  • "Data in Focus Report 1 - The Roma" (April 2009)
  • Technical Report and Questionnaire

Media Memo on the 2nd EU-MIDIS Survey: Muslims

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