Unrelenting rise in xenophobic populism, resentment, hate speech in Europe in 2017
Xenophobic populism and hate speech have continued to be on the rise in 2017, with high levels of migration and challenges of integration, religious extremism, terrorist attacks and the austerity-driven socio-economic climate observed all over Europe, says the annual report [Full Report] of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance [ECRI] published today.
The populist rhetoric has blended into a hatred of non-nationals or minorities; migration and multiculturalism have continued to be presented as a threat to social cohesion and security; traditional and social media have encouraged self-segregation and further deepened social divides. Existing security concerns have been exploited to justify huge trade-offs in fundamental rights of migrants and other vulnerable groups, the report stresses.
The Chairperson of ECRI Jean-Paul Lehners said: “While acknowledging the difficulties European states encounter, we still have to encourage them to change their narrative to a more balanced and fact-based discourse that emphasises the positive contribution of well-governed migration, in particular by underlining the opportunities and resources migrants can bring.”
Managing migration while respecting human rights has remained a major challenge in many member states, according to the report. While ECRI has observed several measures to facilitate the integration of migrants, in particular in the areas of housing, education and employment, the majority of the efforts remain largely limited to migration control. This risks hindering successful integration.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric has persisted in many states in 2017. The negative stereotyping of Islam has led to an increase in violence and hate speech, and articulation of Islamophobia was gradually becoming acceptable in the public opinion and media in a growing number of countries.
The situation of Jewish people in Europe has not substantially improved, and antisemitic hatred was still widespread in 2017. Roma and Travelers have remained largely socially excluded; the access of Roma girls and women to their basic rights, in particular education, was still inadequate. The report also attests to very low levels of responsiveness among many states in addressing the problems experienced by People of African descent.
With regard to homo- and transphobia, the 2017 report describes a varied picture, with progress in some countries offering greater protection for LGBT persons and problems in others where they still experience unacceptably high levels of stigma, intolerance, hatred and discrimination.
ECRI’s past recommendations to improve national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination have not been yet fully implemented by many states. Only 20 of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe have ratified Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights [Text] on a general prohibition of discrimination. Equality bodies which play a pivotal role in combating racism, often suffer problems, in particular with regard to their independence and funding.
ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination on grounds such as “race”, national/ethnic origin, colour, citizenship, religion and language (racial discrimination); it prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.