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Leaders unite against Islamophobia

By Jacky Achan

Added 29th June 2016 08:41 PM

Dr. Farid Hafez of Salzburg University says Islamophobia represents a major challenge to European democracy and freedoms.

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Demonstrators prepare to stage a peace march against Islamaphobia in Dallas, Texas. (AFP)

Dr. Farid Hafez of Salzburg University says Islamophobia represents a major challenge to European democracy and freedoms.

International leaders have called for a boost in the documentation of Islamophobia as a hate crime across Europe and in particular, the European Union (EU).

The position was reached at the conclusion of the first ever European-Islamophobia Summit convened in Sarajevo Bosnia, to tackle anti-Muslim hate crime and bigotry in Europe.

Muddassar Ahmed, the official spokesperson for the Summit and Patron of the Faiths Forum for London said the surge in xenophobic and Islamophobic incidents in the wake of Brexit is a sobering reminder for why more needs to be done to address bigotry.

"It is unfortunate that the Leave Campaign during Britain's Referendum on EU membership used exaggerated claims about Turkey's EU membership bid and images of Syrian refugees on campaign posters to evoke fears of the "other" and of an impending demographic take-over of Europe," he said.

He also added: "The upcoming EU presidency will go to a Slovak government whose party leader admires the 1939-1945 Nazi-sponsored Slovak state that sent 75,000 Jews to concentration camps, and a prime minister who said Muslim refugees are unwelcome in Slovakia."

Academic Advisor to the Summit, Dr. Farid Hafez of Salzburg University said Islamophobia represents a major challenge to European democracy, freedoms and its values of tolerance and pluralism.

The leaders agreed that the current period of political and economic uncertainty within Europe, given Britain's Referendum decision to leave the EU, and the rise of far-right extremism across Europe, will only further worsen a climate of divisiveness, fear and bigotry

This final declaration, agreed on at the Summit's by the 19 participating NGO's. The summit was held just days after a UK referendum decision to exit the EU was followed by a surge in xenophobic and Islamophobic incidents.

It also came and week before Slovakia, which has vowed to refuse entry to Muslim refugees, assumes the EU Presidency.

Summit moderator and Director of Development at the Center for Global Policy, Haroon Moghul said "the Final Declaration offers a serious of powerful policy recommendations to be disseminated to European political and civil society leaders."

The European Islamophobia Summit took place across various Sarajevo landmarks including the Sarajevo National Library (within Sarajevo's City Hall), the Sarajevo National Theatre and Sarajevo's old bazaar.

The summit was held in partnership with the city Government of Sarajevo.

Former leaders of Spain and the UK, as well as representatives from 18 anti-discrimination NGO's, 17 European nations and different faith communities.

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