Islamophobia on rise, especially in Europe: U.N. envoy

Posted on September 14, 2007

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By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations investigator on racism on Friday condemned a rising trend of Islamophobia, especially in Europe, where he said it was being exploited by some right-wing political parties.

Doudou Diene, U.N. special rapporteur on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance, also accused Switzerland’s most popular party, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP/UDC), of inciting hatred.

He urged the withdrawal of the party’s controversial campaign poster calling for expulsion of foreigners who commit serous crimes, depicting three white sheep booting out a black sheep under the headline “For the Security of All.”

“In the current context, Islamophobia constitutes the most serious form of religious defamation,” Diene said in a speech and report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, whose 47 member states were holding a debate on religious defamation. […]

Pakistan, speaking for the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), called the rise of Islamophobia “alarming.” […]

“Political parties with open anti-Islamic platforms have joined governmental coalitions in several countries and started to put in place their political agendas. In sum, Islamophobia is in the process of permeating all facets of social life.”

The Swiss SVP/UDC has launched a referendum to ban construction of minarets in the Alpine country, home to 350,000 Muslims. A similar move is underway in Cologne, Germany. [more]

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