in which ways has the iranian revolutionof 1978-79CE impacted on islamist movements in the middle East?
The cultures and the countries of Europe have historically been heterogeneous and diverse in the religious, ethnic and social composition. The opening of borders, the globalization of production and markets as well as worldwide migration will keep the trend going, despite the attempts by extremist and populist forces, to increase antipathy and to mobilize nationals against cultural heterogeneity. Outsiders in Europe are the targets of prejudice. The groups subjected to prejudice include Jews, black people, Muslims, homosexuals and women. These groups are faced by group-focused enmity, and they are most often, the victims of structural disadvantage and deliberate discrimination. Further, these groups are the targets of extremist violence and right-wing populist campaigns, which argue that outside cultures are not compatible (DellaPergola, 2010).
Being the continent that experiences the highest inward migration, Europe should be least concerned by prejudicial perspectives towards immigrants. For example, in the case of Britain, many of the immigrant groups come from their former colonies, including the Caribbean, India and Pakistan; lately there are labor migrants coming in from Poland. In the case of Germany, many foreigners are those from Turkey, after they went there as temporary labor migrants. These examples demonstrate that the perception of foreigners as outsiders does not ordinarily depend on their origin, country of birth or citizenship. Additionally, foreigners belonging to non-Christian backgrounds are quickly considered outsiders, due to the overwhelmingly Christian orientation of Europe. For example, France has the highest ratios of Muslims, making about 10 percent. In Netherlands and Germany, Muslims comprise about 7 and 6 percent of the general population. This paper will discuss the question; whether Muslims are the foreign group bearing the highest burden of European racism.
Discussion of the burden of European racism borne by Muslims
Migrant and Muslim populations in Europe, as a percentage of the overall population
Main origin countries
North Africa, particularly Algeria
Eastern Europe, Former Soviet union and Turkey
Morocco, Indonesia, Turkey and Surinam
Pakistan, South East Asia, Poland and Caribbean Islands
Africa and Romania
Ukraine and Africa
Eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine
Former Hungarian territories and Romania
Source (Kettani, 2010).
The experience of Discrimination
In 2008, the European commission created a special account of the discrimination experienced in Europe, using the measure survey branded, “Eurobarometer’. It was meant to establish the number of people that view themselves as members of a minority groups. The report, also, explored the prevalence of the experiences of discrimination among the groups considered foreign or outsiders. The figures reporting the contact of individuals with outside groups, from the Eurobarometer show that 61 percent of Europeans reported having acquaintances from other religious groups or the people from other ethnic origins. Further, a third of the population (34 percent) reported that they kept an acquaintance or a friend who identified as homosexual. Particularly, better-educated and younger individuals were more likely to report a higher likelihood of keeping contact with the people from another ethnic origin (Mayer, 2003). Also, those living in urban areas, as well as those belonging to other ethnic minority groups were more likely to report relations and association with the members of the often discriminated groups. The larger majority of those surveyed during the study (87%) gave information that they did not belong to a minority group.
There is also the question of perceived discrimination, where many Europeans give information that, members of minority groups fall victim to the discrimination. Sixty-two percent of the people contacted during the study reported that discrimination due to the ethnic origin of minority group individuals was common. Fifty-one percent of the informants pointed out that the sexual orientation of members of society was enough grounds for discriminating them. Forty-two percent of the respondents reported that the larger proportion of discrimination could be traced to the religious or the faith-based inclinations of the different groups. Another group that was commonly faced with discrimination was those that were disabled; gender was another area that determined the discrimination of members of society.
Among the respondents that gave reports about racial and cultural discrimination levels in their society – those that reported the highest levels of discrimination included the Dutch, Germans, the British and Hungarians. The respondents from Poland and Portugal reported comparatively fewer levels of discrimination against others. The statistics showed that a close relationship existed between the respondent’s experience of discrimination and the discrimination levels reported. In general, 15 percent of the European respondents gave information that they had suffered harassment or discrimination during the previous twelve-month period prior to the study, due to their disability, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or religion. The ratios of France and the Great Britain were higher than the mean for Europe as a whole (Mayer, 2003).
While exploring the question of anti-discrimination levels and strategies in Eastern Europe, 48% of European respondents reported that very little was done to resolve the issue of discrimination, based on racial or other grounds, at their country. This was the opinion expressed, particularly among those that expressed the views that discrimination was widespread throughout Europe or their particular country. Among the respondents, only 11 percent reported that the measures put in place were substantial enough to counter discrimination. The sensitivity to discrimination and racism reported among the respondents was highly dependent on whether they had witnessed discrimination or experienced it themselves (Mayer, 2003). Sensitivity to racism and discrimination, also, varied in levels from one European country to the other. Among the groups that view that enough has been done to counter racism and discrimination are the members of the right-wing extremist and populist groups. This group went as far as sabotaging the actions implemented to counter the discrimination and the racism felt in European countries. These groups used group-targeted enmity to rationalize racism and the discrimination targeted at the different groups.
Racism and Discrimination as core elements of Right-wing extremist and Populist ideologies
There are a number of definitions of right-wing populism and extremism, but the most obvious one is that, treating outsiders and a foreign group as inferior is an important aspect of their general outlook. In the view of Wilhelm Heitmeyer (1987) extremist right-wing inclinations are guided by the ideology of inequality, with reference to the use of violence, which distinguishes them from right-wing populists. The ideology of inequality is expressed through the treatment of other groups as inferior, in racist categories, extreme nationalism, totalitarian norms and social Darwinism – emphasizing in-group homogeneity. The justification of using violence as a legitimate strategy of controlling conflict shows its acceptance for use (Zick and kupper, 2009).
On the basis of qualitative and quantitative data collection from eight European countries, the Siren project pointed out four core elements of right-wing populist social attitudes, including in-group favoritism, out-group negativity, the rejection of the establishments of representative democratic rule and authoritarianism (Hentges et al., 2008). According to Wilhelm, right-wing populism is fundamentally comprised of anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant ideologies, and aggressive authoritarianism, where focus is directed towards law and order (Zick and kupper, 2009). Therefore, the treatment of different groups as inferior is a central outlook of right-wing populist and extremist ideological complexes. Current trends among many European nations depict that anti-Muslim attitudes have grown into a central component of right-wing extremist propaganda and populism. The prejudices propagated by extremist groups at the different European countries depend on the historical origin of the different groups, the prevalence of ideologies justifying unequal treatment, as well as the history and the culture from which they develop. Further, extremist and populist movements embrace unification in the prejudices and the group-focused enmity propagated. The intolerance of others, which covers the violation of norms among insiders and outsiders, is among the instruments used. This instrument is used very effectively, because it attracts the groups that share common sentiments and a powerful system for the reinforcement of cohesion among the insiders (Pettigrew, 2009). Due to the fact that these practices permeate day to day life and the power of prejudice in Europe is more intense than it is believed to be.
Overt and Covert prejudices
Prejudices may be perpetuated openly or in a subtle manner, which is indirect and often hidden. One example of the subtle types of prejudice is the refusal or the rejection of sympathy for the Muslim group, or the exaggeration of the cultural differences between the Muslims and European groups. For instance, there is the common prejudicial outlook that Muslims are more inclined towards becoming terrorists. Covert prejudices covers a chain of arguments, which on closer review, turn out to be commonly presented, irrespective of the group that the prejudices are targeted against (Pettigrew and Meertens, 1995).
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