German report warns of Islamophobia and racism's threat to democracy

3/14/2023 4:55 PM

A German government report details the issue of Islamophobia in the country as its first anti-racism commissioner calls for an end to years of ignoring the problem.  

The first comprehensive report on racism in Germany finds that racism is still a major issue in the country.  

Germany’s first antiracism commissioner, Reem Alabali-Radovan, stressed it was “important to name and discuss anti-Muslim racism in this status report,” during the report’s press briefing.

She said the issue of anti-Muslim racism came up repeatedly during her meetings with Germany’s Muslim community.

According to the report, Germans have the most negative attitude toward Muslims after the Sinti and Roma communities.  

Based on a survey, more than one-fifth of those questioned have negative opinions toward Muslims, a third said the Muslim numbers in Germany should be restricted, while 27% said too many Muslims live in Germany.

The report also points to the violent hate crime attacks Muslims face in the country.  

Alabali-Radovan emphasised that racism is not limited to hate and violence; it also occurs in microaggressions and systemic discrimination in various areas, including the workplace."

"It should not be that a woman with a hijab and the same qualifications as a woman with a more 'German-sounding' name is four times less likely to be called in for a job interview," she said.  

The need to recognise racism  

Germany does not yet have a standard legal definition of racism.

Alabali-Radovan stressed the importance of providing stronger assistance to individuals affected by racism and recognising everyday and systemic racism after "years of ignoring the issue."

"Racism is not an abstract concept, but a painful reality for many people in our society," she said.

"It is a major threat to democracy, as it attacks people and their human dignity, which is guaranteed to them by the Basic Law," she continued.

Nearly 90% of respondents acknowledged that racism is an issue in Germany, and 22% stated that they have personally experienced it.

The report also notes the barriers many face in reporting racist incidents.

Data released last month showed that in the three months to September, there was a 74% increase in anti-Muslim crimes in Germany compared to the previous quarter.  

According to the German federal parliament's data, this compared to 83 offenses against Muslims in the first quarter and 69 in the second quarter.

The report comes as the country contends with the increasing influence of the far right, which instigates much of the negative narrative around Muslims in wider society.