Muslims in Germany face racism, hatred and discrimination on a daily basis, according to an independent commission assigned by the German government.
The Independent Group of Experts that worked on hostility towards Muslims for three years provided a comprehensive report on the racism faced by the Muslim population of Germany. The findings were released on June 29.
“Many of the 5.5 million Muslims in Germany experience marginalization and discrimination in day-to-day life—up to and including hatred and violence,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said after receiving the report.
After analyzing the scientific studies, police crime statistics, and documentation of anti-Muslim incidents by different agencies, the report concluded that at least one-third of Muslims in Germany have been victims of racism due to their religious background.
The experts noted that the real numbers are probably higher as only 10 percent of the Muslim population report hostility and hate crimes against them.
According to the report, Muslims in Germany do not only face racism but are also subjected to daily stereotyping ranging from kindergarten to old age.
The 12-member commission cited data showing around every other German agreed with anti-Muslim statements, “providing a dangerous breeding ground” for extremist groups.
Even German-born Muslims were widely seen as “foreign” while Islam was often presented as a “backward religion” and women wearing traditional headscarves faced “particularly dramatic forms of hostility,” the experts said.
The report said that the negative prejudice for the community includes “the attribution of widespread, largely unchangeable, backward thinking and threatening characteristics to Muslims and people perceived as Muslim.”
In an analysis of popular culture, the report found that nearly 90 percent of films the panel watched presented a negative view of Muslims, often associating them with “terror attacks, wars and oppression of women.”
Pointing to an example of stereotyping Muslims in education, the authors of the study read excerpts from a political science textbook from 2019.
The book claims Muslims “want to live better than they do at home, yet they insist on their identity, which includes headscarves, mosques, prayers in schools, forced marriages, oppression of women … for many of them, that is part of their sense of ‘us.’ The problem is: it collides with our sense of ‘us.’”
This negative labeling of Muslims has led to the exclusion of Muslims from Germany’s mainstream society that perceives Muslims as “the others, despite the fact that half of the Muslims living in the country are German passport holders,” the study added.
It said that crime statistics were beginning to show a more accurate picture of anti-Muslim attacks but acknowledged many went unreported.
Calling Muslims “one of the most under-pressure minorities” in Germany, the panel presented recommendations to political leaders, police and educators as well as the media and entertainment sectors.
Faeser said that the government “would intensively study the report’s findings and recommendations” and work to “fight discrimination and better protect Muslims from exclusion.”
Former German interior minister Horst Seehofer launched the commission in 2020 after a far-right extremist killed 10 people and wounded five others in an anti-Muslim shooting spree in the central city of Hanau.
The attack shocked Muslims around the globe and prompted human rights groups to raise an alarm about the growing Islamophobic sentiment in the West.
It is important to mention that the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, currently polling at around 20 percent nationally, had an explicitly anti-Muslim party platform.