Illustration photo shows a woman walking down a street wearing a hijab in Marseille, France
Islamophobic incidents appear to the be falling in Luxembourg, according to figures from a watchdog organisation, but the struggle is not over.
In its first report, for the year 2018, the Observatoire de l’Islamophobie reported the results of two surveys in which it polled 340 people of the Muslim faith at random.
While a quarter of respondents said they had been victim of an Islamophobic incident in 2017, that proportion fell to 21.2% the following year. There was a similar evolution among respondents who had witnessed an islamophobic incident, from 38.2% in 2017 to 26.2% in 2018.
“The results of our survey show a fall in targeted injustices towards Muslims, which remains encouraging for the future. But we should point out equally that this data should be put in perspective given this is the only survey to treat the problem,” the report read.
Islamophobia at work
Incidents were most commonly experienced in the world of work (53.2%), media (32.2%), public domain (28%), and politics (25.2%). In the former, the report cited the example of a 27-year-old Luxembourgish woman who wore the veil and who took part in a job interview at a company where she had already interned for two months. “After asking her to attend, the job interview transformed into a veritable interrogation about Islam,” the report read.
In politics, the report underlines what it says are efforts by some MPs to “problematise the presence of Islam in Luxembourg through parliamentary questions aimed at the daily lives of Muslim citizens.”
The report author cited the example of the urgent parliamentary questions submitted after the attacks in Strasbourg in December 2018 asking about safety precautions for Luxembourg. But pointed out that no precautions or questions were asked about the protection of Muslims after the attack on the Christchurch Muslim community on 15 March 2019.
Inequality and exclusion
“These attempts at stigmatisation are very dangerous given that they can lead to a feeling of inequality and exclusion among certain Luxembourg citizens of the Muslim faith,” the report reads.
While survey respondents said that the level islamophobia lived and witnessed in Luxembourg was not as bad as in neighbouring countries, it exists. Furthermore, a tendency to not report incidents (around 5.7% respondents had not formally or informally reported the real incidents) means data available about such incidents may be distorted.
The observatory called on the government to support its actions in the fight against islamophobia, to give it greater exposure and eventually organise a national day against islamophobia. It called for the creation of diversity training treating diversity management and the psychosocial aspects of discrimination. Finally, it asked for greater coordination between different actors working in the fight against discrimination and islamophobia.