Sunday, October 01, 2006

ECRI Reprimands Denmark Over Treatment of Muslims

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) listed Muslims as a "vulnerable" group along with Roma/gypsies in its report on Denmark issued on 16th May 2006. It started off by highlighting the objectives of the previous report:
In its second report, noting with concern the climate surrounding Muslims and Islam in Denmark, ECRI recommended that the Danish Government undertake awareness-raising measures in the public sphere as well as in the education system to promote a more objective and informed perception of Muslims. ECRI also recommended that public opinion leaders promote a more informed and diverse image of Muslims and Islam.
It bemoaned the failure of the Danish Government to not only to live up to the goals, but reported a further escalation of negative climate against Muslims.
ECRI notes with deep concern that the situation concerning Muslims in Denmark has worsened since its second report. ECRI has been informed that, apart from the above-mentioned discrimination that Muslims face together with other minority groups in areas such as employment, education and housing, politicians from some political parties such as the Danish People’s Party and some media continue to make incendiary remarks about Muslims. Although, in 2003, a number of cases of incitement to racial hatred in general, and against Muslims in particular were successfully prosecuted, ECRI notes that the police are generally reluctant to investigate complaints made by Muslims concerning hate speech directed against them.
A little later on in the report, it condemned the publication of the Orientalist and racist caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):

In September 2005, with the stated intention of verifying whether freedom of speech is respected in Denmark, a widely-read Danish newspaper called on cartoonists to send in caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad; such drawings are considered to be offensive by many Muslims. This newspaper thus published 12 such cartoons, one of which portrayed the Prophet as a terrorist. The issue has caused widespread condemnation and a protest march was organised in Copenhagen as a result. The fact that, according to a survey carried out regarding the publication of these drawings, 56% of the respondents felt that it was acceptable is a testimony of the current climate in Denmark. ECRI considers that the goal of opening a democratic debate on freedom of speech should be met without resorting to provocative acts that can only predictably elicit an emotional reaction.

We can safely conclude that the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has lived up to its name and purpose, and is a model to be followed everywhere. Now the question is whether the the Danish Government will satisfactorily live up to the objectives set.

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