Acts of Islamophobia in Europe are on the rise, and those that occur are more likely to go unpunished, according to experts working in the field.
Bekir Gunes, head of Belgium-based think tank Thinkout, said on Feb. 19 that discrimination against Muslims in Europe has increased since the Paris attacks of November 2015, according to Turkish media outlet Anadolu Agency.
New European policies that were created after the attacks, which killed 130 people and injured many others, have made it more difficult for Muslims to move between countries and find refuge.
“Our rights should not be restricted on the pretext of terrorist incidents,” Gunes told Anadolu Agency.
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Furthermore, legal loopholes made it more difficult to punish those who committed hate crimes against Muslims in European countries.
“In most places you cannot open a case personally [over a complaint of Islamophobic crime],” Gunes said.
Gunes advocated changing the laws to make it easier for victims of such crimes to report what they experienced and pursue justice.
Azra Junuzovic, the deputy chief of the Tolerance and Non-Discrimination Unit under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, agreed, stating that Islamophobia has seen a marked increase in recent months.
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In November, German news outlet Deutsche Welle reported that numerous organizations -- including British group Tell MAMA, the German Central Council of Muslims and the Collective Against Islamophobia in France -- had evidence of significant spikes in hate crimes against Muslims.
Tell MAMA reported that hate crimes increased threefold in the U.K. in the two weeks following the Paris attacks, with 115 incidents registered in the week following the attacks. CCIF received reports of vandalized mosques and restaurants owned by Muslims as well as physical attacks, including one incident in which a man pushed and cursed at a woman with a 5-month-old baby.
The most recent figures indicate that more than 40 million Muslims live in Europe, with more pouring in every day due to refugee crises in the Middle East and North Africa, according to a study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2011.