Racism in Europe

Racism in Europe

The article describes the state of race relations and racism in a Europe. Racism of various forms is found in every country on Earth. [cite web|url = http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engACT400202001|publisher = Amnesty International|title = Racism and the administration of justice] Racism is widely condemned throughout the world, with 170 states signatories of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by August 8 2006. [cite web|url = http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/208ba1d9617d31d1c1257259003eed53?Opendocument|title = Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 68th and 69th session|publisher = United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights] In different countries, the forms that racism takes may be different for historic, cultural, religious, economic or demographic reasons.


Austria has sometimes been criticised of trying to sweep its Nazi past under the carpet. This complacency was tested in the 1986 presidential race when it emerged that Kurt Waldheim (a former UN secretary general) had concealed facts about his war-time military service with the Wehrmacht. Nevertheless Waldheim was elected President. Controversy again erupted in 2000 when Jörg Haider's centre-right Freedom Party entered into coalition with the conservative People's Party having gained 27% of the vote. Progress has been made with settling the disputes and compensation for Jews and others whose property and assets were seized during the Nazi era, with a deal completed in 2001.Fact|date=January 2008 Elections in 2002 saw a significant drop in support for the Freedom Party, with the party subsequently splitting into opposing factions. Jörg Haider now leads the "Alliance for the Future of Austria".


Racism in Bulgaria has been geared towards the Romani people who are perceived to be of different racial and ethnic background. However, not all Bulgarians are racist towards the Roma, and it really depends on the individual's upbringing, education, area where they lived, and other factors.Bulgarian nationalists are also wary of the country's large Turkish minority because of their perceived ambitions for greater power in Bulgaria and potential separatism in areas where Turks predominantly live. The forced assimilation campaign of the late 80s and early 90s directed against ethnic Turks resulted in the permanent emigration of some 300,000 Bulgarian Turks to Turkey. During this period, Turks were forced to change their names to Slavic Bulgarian ones and Turkish culture was heavily suppressed. Muslim Bulgarians (ethnic Bulgarians practicing Islam) were also targeted as Islam was seen as a "foreign "Turkish element" that stood against Bulgarian interests.The National Union Attack or Ataka, a party widely considered fanatically xenophobic, surprisingly won 10% of the popular vote at the recent 2005 elections.


The French have a long history of ethnic and racial conflicts. In the Second Crusade (1147) the Jews in France were subject to frequent massacres. The Crusades were followed by expulsions; in 1396, 100,000 Jews were expelled from France. Jews in Western Europe generally were forced, by decree or by informal pressure, to live in highly segregated ghettos. Anti-Semitism, a common trend in European history, is also highlighted in French history by events such as the Dreyfus Affair at the turn of the nineteenth century, and France's treatment of its Jewish population during the Vichy regime. Likewise, the treatment of North Africans and other former colonials during the colonial era, the atrocities committed in Algeria during the War of Independence (1954–1962) and also the Paris massacre of 1961 are also signs of intolerance. The fact that Algerians formed the bulk of late-twentieth century immigration has raised delicate issues, which are exacerbated by the degradation of the general social situation. In the 1970s Jean Raspail wrote "The Camp of the Saints" which some felt implied African immigrants should be drowned or shot to prevent them from entering France.

In 1998 the Council of Europe's European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) made a report stating concern about racist activities in France and accused the French authorities of not doing enough to combat this. The report and other groups have expressed concern about organizations like Front National (France). In a recent Pew Survey, 47% of the French deem immigration from Eastern Europe to be a bad thing. A small minority shows signs of Anti-Semitism. Roughly 11% had an unfavorable view of Jews [ [http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?PageID=795 Pew Global Attitudes Project: Summary of Findings: A Year After Iraq War ] ] and 8% felt that US policy was most influenced by the Jews. [ [http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?PageID=803 Pew Global Attitudes Project: III: Opinions of U.S. Policies: U.S. Image Up Slightly, But Still Negative ] ] In the colonial age some French also displayed negative sentiments toward black Africans.

Nevertheless these judgments should be balanced by the following: Canadians had roughly the same percentage linking US policy to Jews as France did. Furthermore, France had been ruled by Jewish leaders during the twentieth century (most notably Léon Blum and Pierre Mendès-France, who were both highly popular). Indeed, France has a long history of support for universalism dating back to the Enlightenment : the unenforced constitution of 1794 gave the right to vote to all "foreigners" (independently of any racial consideration) living in France for more than one year. The French also generally have a greater interest in African culture and aid to the region.Fact|date=January 2008

The issue of Palestine "transported" the animosity between Jews and Arabs to Europe to some degree. When in October and November of 2005, violent riots erupted in north-east Paris, and later other cities around France, after two presumably innocent youths of North African origin were accidentally electrocuted after they were chased by the police, some German and French fringe media spread racist conspiracy theories by [http://www.alterinfo.net/Emeutes-de-novembre-en-France-une-operation-des-services-secrets_a4684.html accusing] Israeli's secret services, the Mossad, of covert operations behind the general troubles.

France is home to Europe’s largest population of Muslims, about 6,000,000 (9-11%), as well as the continent’s largest community of Jews, about 600,000.Fact|date=January 2008 Over the last several years, anti-Jewish violence, property destruction, and racist language has been wildly increasing. Jewish leaders perceive an intensifying anti-Semitism in France, mainly among Muslims of Arab or African heritage, but also growing among Caribbean islanders from former colonies. [cite news |first=Colin |last=Nickerson |title=Anti-Semitism seen rising among France's Muslims |url=http://www.boston.com/news/world/europe/articles/2006/03/13/anti_semitism_seen_rising_among_frances_muslims/ |publisher=The Boston Globe |date=2006-03-13]

In May 2005, there were explosive riots between North African Muslims and Romas in Perpignan after a young Arab man was shot dead and another Arab man was lynched by a group of Roma. [cite news |title='Race killing' sparks French riot |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4594019.stm |publisher=BBC |date=2005-05-30] [cite news |first=Megan |last=Rowling |title=French riots borne of mutual exclusion |url=http://english.aljazeera.net/English/archive/archive?ArchiveId=12707 |publisher=Al Jazeera |date=2005-06-06]

In 2007, the French elected Nicolas Sarkozy, a French Roman Catholic of French, Greek Jewish and Hungarian genealogical lineage.


The history of Germany has included many acts and policies of racism. If one includes pre-19th century acts of anti-Semitism as racism, the history stretches back to at least the eleventh century, when Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor expelled Jews from Mainz in 1012. Other acts of anti-Semitism included numerous bloody attacks on Jews living in the area in the 13th and 14th centuries, most notably the massacres of Jews in the 1340s after they were blamed for spreading the Black Death.

In the nineteenth century, Germany became one of the major centers of nationalist thought, with the "Völkisch movement", and also a major area for development of racial theories, many of them virulently racist "See above". Anti-semitic campaigns in this period took on a definitely "racial" valence, as definitely distinct from a purely religious one.

The period after World War I led to an increased use of anti-Semitism and other racism in political discourse, for example among General Ludendorff's followers, which was capped by the ascent of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party in 1933. Nazi racial policy and the Nazi Nuremberg Laws represented some of the most explicit racist policies in Europe in the twentieth century, and culminated in the Holocaust, a systematic murdering of millions of Jews, Slavs, Gypsies, disabled people and other "undesirables".

In the post-World War II era, German reconciliation with its anti-Semitic past has been a protracted experience. Recent concerns about racism have centered around immigrants ("Ausländer"), who encounter prejudice when seeking jobs and apartments, or can even experience direct violent attacks by some right-wing groups. This pattern is similar to what is happening in some other European countries.

The immigrants came in two waves. The first wave of immigrants came in the early 1950s, the so called "Gastarbeiter" (Guest Workers). They were almost exclusively requested and welcomed by the German government and companies as work-force increase to the growing and booming economy. These well trained working people were literally exchanged by their native countries for economical incentives and came mainly from countries such as Turkey, Italy, Greece and Yugoslavia to West Germany, and Vietnam and Angola to East Germany. Initially, the "Gastarbeiter" were expected to remain on limited contracts or work-permissions, and then eventually leave. Many of these contracts were extendent and family reunions were granted resulting in children born and raised in Germany. These second generation "Gastarbeiters" were now granted different rights (the right to live indefinitely in Germany - Aufenthaltsberechtigung) from their parents permission to reside for a limited, but for indefinitely extendable time (Arbeitserlaubnis). Problems of integration arose then these second and third generation "Gastarbeiter" remained citizens of other countries in which these generations had never lived and were increasingly culturally, socially and economically alienated. Starting from the 1980s, the second wave of immigrants into Germany were the "Asylbewerber" (Asylum Seekers) from war torn and conflicted areas such as Sri Lanka and Lebanon. Announcing the word "asyl" on German ground meant automatic permission to enter GermanyFact|date=February 2008, and this part of the law was being at least partially abused by some migrants who were not escaping political and social hardship in their native countries, but economical hardships, called "Wirtschaftsflüchtlinge" (Economic Refugees). Germany was not prepared and in denial of being a land of migration since at least the 1960s when the first children were being born to 'Gastarbeiter'. A failed integration of the first generation and failed German planning assisted in a general sense of not-belonging and the development of parallel societies that failed to identify themselves completely as part of the German culture and society, creating and enabling racism and discrimination.


For most of the last eight centuries of Irish history discrimination in Ireland has been experienced in terms of oppression against the indigenous Irish people by a succession of English rulers beginning with the English-supported Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169. This persecution was felt in terms of laws forbidding land ownership (the Penal Laws), restrictions on freedom of religion (persecution of Roman Catholics following the Protestant Reformation in England), denial of the right to vote or hold office and inaction during the The Great Famine leading to approximately 1 million deaths and the exodus of over 2 million people. [Demography (official journal of the Population Association of America), Vol. 23, No. 4 (Nov., 1986), pp. 543-562. Fertility Trends, Excess Mortality, and the Great Irish Famine - Phelim P. Boyle, Cormac O Grada.This paper estimates mortality and fertility rates prevailing in Ireland during the 25-year period before the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1849. A technique is developed to estimate the age-specific mortality level during the Famine and the number of Famine-related deaths. The paper concludes that fertility rates were declining during the period 1821–1845 and that the effects of the Famine were especially severe on the very young and the very old. Ignoring deaths among emigrants, it is estimated that one million individuals perished as a result of the Famine. The analysis permits year-by-year reconstruction of the Irish population age structure for the period 1821-1851.] The Plantations of Ireland, run by English colonists, were a precursor to the overseas Empire. [Nicholas Canny, Origins of Empire, The Oxford History of the British Empire] In cases of wars and rebellions, such as the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, Irish Rebellion of 1798 and the Irish War of Independence of 1919-1921 war crimes, massacres and atrocities where committed by British forces or British-supported paramilitaries. It is estimated that as much as a third of the entire population of Ireland perished during the civil wars and subsequent Cromwellian conquest in the mid-17th century. Since the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Ireland had been mainly under the control of the Irish Confederate Catholics.

The Cromwellian reconquest of Ireland was extremely brutal.The reconquest would today be called war crimes. William Petty who conducted the first scientific land and demographic survey of Ireland in the 1650s (the Down Survey), concluded that between 400,000 and 620,000 people died in Ireland between 1641 and 1653 many as a result of famine and plague. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/ashorthistory/archive/intro99.shtml The curse of Cromwell] , BBC] ["War and Underdevelopment: Economic and Social Consequences of Conflict v. 1" (Queen Elizabeth House Series in Development Studies), Frances Stewart, Oxford University Press. 2000. "Faced with the prospect of an Irish alliance with Charles II, Cromwell carried out a series of massacres to subdue the Irish. Then, once Cromwell had returned to England, the English Commissary, General Henry Ireton, adopted a deliberate policy of crop burning and starvation, which was responsible for the majority of an estimated 600,000 deaths out of a total Irish population of 1,400,000."] [Mark Levene, 2005, Genocide in the Age of the Nation-State, I.B.Tauris: London: " [The Act of Settlement of Ireland] , and the parliamentary legislation which succeeded it the following year, is the nearest thing on paper in the English, and more broadly British, domestic record, to a programme of state-sanctioned and systematic ethnic cleansing of another people. The fact that it did not include 'total' genocide in its remit, or that it failed to put into practice the vast majority of its proposed expulsions, ultimately, however, says less about the lethal determination of its makers and more about the political, structural and financial weakness of the early modern English state.]

The Shelta or Irish Travellers, a traditionally nomadic ethnic group once speaking their own language have also experienced persecution in past and modern times from both previous British authorities and also in the Irish Free State and the present-day Republic of Ireland. Following independence in 1921 there was traditionally very little immigration by non-whites to the Republic of Ireland due to historic poverty, though in recent times growing prosperity in the country (see: Celtic Tiger) has attracted increasing numbers of immigrants, mainly from Africa, China, and Eastern Europe. Also the absence of any colonialist baggage has meant that foreign people are not drawn to Ireland by "mother country" factors that have affected other European countries. Descendants of Irish people who emigrated in the past have also started moving to the country. Most immigrants have settled in Dublin and the other cities. Though these developments have been somewhat tolerated by most, there has been a rise in racist attitudes among some sections of society. Much of this racism takes the form of verbal and other abuses. However, in 2002, a Chinese man Zhao Liu Tao (29) was murdered in Dublin in what was described as the Republic of Ireland's first racially motivated murder. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1813880.stm] Later that year Leong Ly Min, another Chinese man who had lived in Dublin since 1979, was beaten to death by a gang who had been racially abusing him. [http://republican-news.org/archive/2002/August29/29anti.html]

Several issues relating to immigration have gained publicity in recent years. After 1997 and prior to 2005 any baby born in the Republic was entitled to Irish citizenship due to stipulations in the Good Friday agreement. This led to claims that many pregnant women from Africa (overwhelmingly from Nigeria), having discarded their identification documentation, were travelling to Ireland expressly to give birth and thus allow their child to gain Irish citizenship. This became known as citizenship tourism. Following these alleged abuses of the loophole in the Irish Constitution a referendum on the issue was held. The referendum was duly carried and the loophole was closed.

In 2005 Nigerian student Olukunle Elukanlo was deported after his asylum application was rejected. Following an outcry by various left-wing activist groups at the decision he was allowed to return to complete his Leaving Cert. He was later deported. It is understood that one factor in the decision was Elukanlo's recent plea of guilty in court to charges of driving without insurance or tax, along with the fact that he already has a previous conviction for a road traffic offence. The issue highlighted the growing numbers of failed asylum seekers being deported. This has been highlighted in recent television and radio programmes focused on exposing the extreme high cost to the Irish taxpayer of processing false asylum claims in addition to the cost of returning bogus asylum-seekers to their country of origin.

The large majority of Irish people support their country's membership of the European Union, but increasingly large numbers resent migrants from outside the Union coming to Ireland expressly for the purpose of claiming asylum, without having applied for asylum in other countries along their route as is required by international law. There are several "anti-racism" groups active in the Republic, as well as those seeking tighter immigration laws such as the Immigration Control Platform.


In 2006 the Dutch Equal Treatment Commission got 694 requests to judge if a treatment legislation law had been broken. By far the most cases concerned age discrimination (219), race discrimination followed (105). THE CGB brought out 261 judgements; 46 per cent of the cases where declared discrimination. [ [http://www.discriminatie.nl/?nieuws=171 Art.1 - Art.1: landelijke vereniging die zich inzet voor het voorkomen en bestrijden van discriminatie ] ]


Racism in Portugal is not a major social issue. The population, although fairly homogeneous, is also composed of some minorities, such as African and Roma. Despite the openness to other cultures and peoples, some cases of violence are registered in the recent history of the country.Fact|date=January 2008


Racism in Romania has been growing after the fall of communism in 1989. Neo-Nazi groups [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noua_Dreapt%C4%83] and all sorts of people constructed a barricade against the Romani people who are seen as thieves and uneducated people. Also, P.R.M. (The Greater Romania Party - Partidul Romania Mare), a party considered to be racist, antisemitic and xenophobic has programs against the Roma and Hungarian minorities. In 2004, PRM scored 13.2% in the elections. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Romania_Party]



Gypsies have become the main target of Slovenian racists in the 21st century as the population is otherwise extremely homogeneous. [ [http://www.humaniteinenglish.com/article441.html Slovenia: Chasing out the Roma] ]


At the end of the "Reconquista", Spanish Inquisition imposed "pureza de sangre" ("racial purity") against Jews and Muslims.Discovery of the New World also led to the famous Valladolid Controversy, in which Bartolomé de Las Casas opposed Sepúlveda's denegation of the existence of "Indian souls". "See Eduardo Galeano's "The Veins of South America" ".

Racist abuse aimed at black footballers has been reported at Spanish football league matches in recent years. This has led to protests and UEFA fines against clubs whose supporters continue the abuse. Several players in the Spanish league including Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o and Espanyol goalkeeper Carlos Kameni have suffered and spoken out against the abuse. In 2006, Real Zaragoza player Ewerthon stated : "the Spanish Federation have to start taking proper measures and we as black players also have to act. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/europe/4751876.stm Eto'o makes anti-racism protest] BBC News]


According to the report "Racism and Xenophobia in Sweden" by the Board of Integration Muslims are exposed to the most religious harassment in Sweden. Almost 40% of the interviewed said they had witnessed verbal abuse directed at Muslims. [ [http://www.thelocal.se/article.php?ID=2363&date=20051025 The Local: Muslims face most racism in Sweden] ]


The Swiss Confederation or "Confederatio Helvetica" is a nation composed of four subcultural groups: German-speaking (63.7%), French-speaking (20.4%), Italian-speaking (6.5%) and Romansh-speaking (0.5%) (Source: [http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/en/index/themen/bevoelkerung/sprachen__religionen/blank/kennzahlen0/sprachen.html Federal Population Census 2000] ). With this diversity and its history of neutrality, Switzerland has been seen as a safe refuge for those genuinely fleeing from persecution, and this is backed up by statistics. Switzerland has seen an increase in refugees in recent years, (particularly from Africa), who have claimed asylum directly in Switzerland. In 1992, the federal refugee office registered some 7,000 black Africans requesting asylum. In the first nine months of 2002 the number was 17,000. The vast majority of asylum seekers are believed by many Swiss politicians to be economic immigrants rather than genuine asylum seekers. Furthermore, the SVP or Swiss People's Party has significantly increased its share of the vote in recent years on a perceived "anti-immigrant" platform. It is best known for opposing Swiss membership in international organisations such as the EU and United Nations and for its campaigning against perceived flaws in the immigration, asylum and penal laws.

Swiss "Confederation Commission Against Racism" which is part of the Swiss "Federal Department of Home Affairs" [http://www.edi.admin.ch/] published a 2004 report, "Black People in Switzerland": "A Life between Integration and Discrimination" [http://www.edi.admin.ch/ekr/dokumentation/shop/00019/00142/index.html?lang=de] (published in German, French, and Italian only). According to this report, discrimination based on skin colour in Switzerland is not exceptional, and affects immigrants decades after their immigration.

Swiss people voted a new parliament in 2007, giving the right-wing Swiss People's Party a consolidated grip on power. UN Human Rights are fearful of the xenophobia that characterized Switzerland, and condemned laws that target the country's immigrants as unjust and racist. The Swiss People's Party which has the largest number of seats in the Swiss parliament and is a member of the country's coalition government, drew worldwide condemnation with an ad campaign depicting three white sheep kicking a black sheep off a Swiss flag. The poster is, according to the United Nations, the sinister symbol of the rise of a new racism and xenophobia in the heart of one of the world's oldest independent democracies. According to Pascal Sciarini, professor of political science at the University of Geneva, the People's Party's recent electoral success is down to its tough line on foreigners, and it is now a prisoner of this strategy: "They have to keep the fires burning, and that means they have to come up with new ideas and at the same time harden their stance," he said. Although Switzerland has Europe's toughest naturalisation laws - foreigners must live for 12 years in a Swiss community before they can apply, and being born in Switzerland brings no right to citizenship -, Swiss People's Party passed a new naturalisation procedure in 2007, called " Democratic Naturalisation " in this new procedure foreigners must often be approved by the entire voting community, in a secret ballot, or a show of hands. A report, from Switzerland's Federal Commission on Racial Discrimination, into the new process of naturalisation says the current system is discriminatory and in many respects racist, and recommends far-reaching changes. It criticises the practice of allowing members of a community to vote on an individual's citizenship application. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and people from the Balkans, Africa, Asia and Latin America are the most likely to be rejected, the report points out. It cites the case of a disabled man originally from Kosovo. Although fulfilling all the legal criteria, his application for citizenship was rejected by his community on the grounds that his disability made him a burden on taxpayers, and that he was Muslim. Swiss People's Party claims that Swiss communities have a democratic right to decide who can or cannot be Swiss. In addition, the report said "Official statements and political campaigns that present immigrants from the EU in a favourable light and immigrants from elsewhere in a bad light must stop", according to the Swiss Federal Statistics Office in 2006, 85.5 percent of the foreign residents in Switzerland are European [http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/fr/index/themen/01/07/blank/data/01.html] . The United Nations special rapporteur on racism, Doudou Diène, has observed that Switzerland suffers from racism, discrimination and xenophobia. The UN envoy explained that although the Swiss authorities recognised the existence of racism and xenophobia, they did not view the problem as being serious. Diène pointed out that representatives of minority communities said they experienced serious racism and discrimination. [http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/front/UN_envoy_calls_racism_in_Switzerland_a_reality.html?siteSect=105&sid=6382785&cKey=1137401626000&ty=st] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6992670.stm] [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6980766.stm]


United Kingdom


ee also

Racism by country

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