PRESS RELEASE: Launch of Counter-Islamophobia Toolkit

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Counter Islamophobia Toolkit
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24 September 2018

PRESS RELEASE: Launch of Counter-Islamophobia Toolkit

Launch of Landmark Counter-Islamophobia Toolkit (CIK) – Ground breaking project provides an actionable Counter-Islamophobia Toolkit aimed at combatting the numerous facets of growing Islamophobia across the EU

Launch date: 26 September 2018
Venue: European Parliament, Brussels, BELGIUM
Time: 09:00 Press Conference [1] European Parliament, room PHS 0A50
10.00 – 12.00 CIK Launch [2] European Parliament, room A1E1, Altiero Spinelli Building

The ‘Counter-Islamophobia Toolkit’ (CIK), contains key actionable messages to be conveyed to policy makers, national governments, professionals, civil society, the media and practitioners from across the EU. The CIK will be launched on Wednesday 26 September 2018 at the European Parliament.

Quotes from some of the Toolkit authors, and member state research teams and authors can be found below [1].

This comprehensive research is the largest of its kind in Europe. The research underpinning the CIK examines normative patterns of Islamophobia and effective counter-narratives to Islamophobia in eight EU member states (Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and the UK).

The project findings document shortcomings in the implementation and enforcement of anti-discrimination law and policies, look at wider cultural narratives, the problems of media representation, as well as other laws, policies and institutional issues, and their intersections with Islamophobia. The project has spoken to practitioners in all fields in the eight countries to look at best practice, and has produced an actionable toolkit designed to tackle Islamophobia within the member states and at European levels. Details of the research and the reports produced can be found on the project website cik.leeds.ac.uk including work pertaining to dominant Islamophobic narratives and dominant counter-narratives to Islamophobia in the eight aforementioned cases.

The project was co-funded by the Rights, Equality & Citizenship Programme of the EU, and was led by the University of Leeds (UK). Case study expertise and fieldwork was carried out by the project’s partners: Centre for Ethnicity and Migration Studies, University of Liège (Belgium), Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra (Portugal), Alba Business School (Greece), Center for Policy Studies, Central European University (Hungary), Institute of Sociological Studies, Charles University (Czech Republic), and the Islamic Human Rights Commission (France, Germany and UK).

The event is organised by the CIK Project Team in cooperation with the Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup (ARDI), the Green/EFA party and the European Commission, and will be part of a one-day intensive program on the occasion of the European Day Against Islamophobia.

For further information on the press conference or main event please email caterina@ihrc.org or call +32 488 94 61 90 or Nadia on +44 208 904 4222 or +44 7877 675998.

An agenda for the main launch event can be found here

Embargoed copies of the Toolkit (48) pages, and each Member State’s Key National messages (10 – 15 pages) in the national language are available by contacting Nadia (nadia@ihrc.org).

For press enquiries on the day of the launch please contact Arzu Merali on +44 7958 607475

Notes to editors:

[1] Author quotes

“As Islamophobia spreads, it becomes more important than ever to develop strategies to combat it. This CIK toolkit does not just investigate Islamophobia but focuses on measures against it. The toolkit is a product of multi-country European funded effort, based on the work that CERS, University of Leeds has pioneered in racism studies.”

Toolkit co-author
Professor Salman Sayyid, Professor of Social Theory and Decolonial Thought, Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds

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“For the first time, our new research provides a systematic listing of the ten most powerful narratives available across Europe to challenge Islamophobic messages. We hope this will lead to a strengthening of the global response to the proliferation of Islamophobia through the utilisation of our new Counter Islamophobia Toolkit.”

Toolkit co-author and Head of Project,
Professor Ian Law, Professor of Racism and Ethnicity Studies, Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies, School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds.

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“Given the dismissal and lack of serious attention to Islamophobia as a structural form of racism in German society, making Islamophobia visible has been one of the most important tasks to counter its effects. Recognizing Islamophobia as a societal problem should be followed by measures that thwart and prevent the manifold manifestations of this phenomenon in legislation, media representation, labour market, education, and housing. Muslim women wearing headscarves have been particularly vulnerable to discriminatory practices and barred from accessing job positions both in the public and private sector. The current bans on headscarves upheld in some federal states despite the Federal Constitutional Court’s decision ruling them as unconstitutional should be repealed.”

Germany,
Dr. Luis Manuel Hernández Aguilar (IHRC/Center for Research on Antisemitism, TU Berlin)

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“The UK has often been hailed as an exemplar of race relations, however recent years have seen a roll-back from the achievements, however contentious, made in previous decades. This project has been crucial in analysing what is going wrong, how it is being tackled and by whom, what lessons can be learned and what needs to be done at the national and regional level.”

UK,
Arzu Merali, Head of Research, Islamic Human Rights Commission.

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“Czechs, predominantly, see Islam to be incompatible with Czech culture and perceive it as a security risk. These attitudes can be attributed to a lack of direct experience combined with misrepresented reports on the situation in Western European countries. There is a need to strengthen the representation of voices treating Islam as a normal and natural part of democratic societies. Debating critically means to bring different views on Islam and foster more plastic and nuanced views which might prevent Czech society against simplification of Islamophobic narratives.”

Speaking for Czech Republic team,
Karel Čada, sociologist, Charles University in Prague.

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“Different regimes of denial in Portugal have precluded a sustained interrogation of experiences of Islamophobia and the effectiveness of the implementation of anti-discrimination measures. There should be a shift in approach from a constant focus on Muslims and Islam as objects of scrutiny, towards a public debate on Islamophobia. This shift would require an interrogation of the intersections between racism and Islamophobia and the legacies of colonialism in contemporary Portugal, something which would build a safe public sphere for the debate with Muslims beyond that of denial and accusations of “radicalization”.”

Speaking for Portugal team,
Silvia Rodríguez Maeso, Principal researcher, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra

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“In Belgium, despite controversies on the use of the notion “islamophobia” and on its meanings, there is quite a large consensus among civil society and equality state bodies that anti-Muslim discrimination (including discourse and action) has been growing in the country in recent years. In this context, the CIK project highlights the main messages of hatred that are spread locally. Secondly, it identifies a wide range of activities and counter-narratives put in place by a variety of actors to reverse anti-Muslim discourse and to ensure visibility to the agency and participation of Muslims in dealing, not only with discrimination but, in more general terms, with the improvement of local wellbeing and social cohesion.

Dr Hassan Bousetta, Senior Researcher Associate F.R.S.-FNRS, Centre for Ethnic and Migration studies (CEDEM, University of Liège)
Dr Elsa Mescoli, Post-doctoral researcher and Lecturer, Centre for Ethnic and Migration studies (CEDEM, University of Liège)[Ends]

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