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Racism in Europe

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Racism in Europe

According to the 2007 Eurobarometer, Europeans believe that discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin is the most common form of discrimination in Europe.[1]

Racism of various forms is found in every country on Earth, albeit at different rates and nature of incidents.[2] 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 8 August 2006.[3]


On 9 October, the Bulgarian president signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, signaling a new commitment to uphold minority rights.[4]

In 2011 the parliamentary party "Ataka", identifying itself as nationalist, attacked the mosque in the center of Sofia during the Friday prayer. In 2013 one of the leaders of another nationalist party, VMRO, Angel Djambasky was put under investigation for calling the people to arm themselves against the immigrants.

At least 6 racist crimes are perpetuated between 3 and 13 November.

A new "Nationalist party of Bulgaria", uniting skinheads, "Blood an honor", "National resistance" etc. has been created in November. 112 intellectuals sign a petition to the attorney general not to register them.[5][6][7]


Countries outside Europe criticized Denmark for statements in relation to the Muhammad cartoons controversy.[8] Amnesty International has previously criticized the anti-drug police readiness to act against foreign citizens. Several tourists claimed that they were allegedly beaten and harassed by staff in a prison.[9]

In relation to the ongoing gang war in Denmark, non-ethnic Danish gangs criticized the government[10] due to the law that criminals of non-Danish citizenship are deported.[11][12][13]


Reports say that racial hate crime is a recent phenomenon, and that they are on the rise.[14][15] The numbers of reported hate crimes in 2003 and 2004 were 522 and 558, respectively. In 2009, they had increased to over 1 000 (including non-racist hate crimes). Racial hate crimes have fluctuated from 858 (2009) to 641 (2012)[16] and the typical suspect have been a Finnish-born young man. However, over 60% of the targets were reported to have been Finland-born, although those with foreign-born parents were counted as well. The most targeted immigrants in 2004 were reported to be of Somali, Kurdish, Russian, Iraqi and Iranian origin. One-third of the hate crimes were reportedly aimed at the Kale, and only one in six were members of the native population.

In European Social Surveys since 2002, Finns have proved to be least racist just after Swedes. Earlier Finnish scientific data reveals that attitudes had been improving continuously for a long time.[17] Professor of Social Policy and responsible of Finnish ESS, Heikki Ervasti, denies a common thought of increased negative attitudes against immigrants.[18]

A poll made in late 2011 revealed that the majority of the Finns viewed Finland as a racist country.[19] Two thirds considered the country to be fairly racist, 12% recognised a moderate amount of racism, and 2% admitted to be very racist; 35% agreed partly or wholly to the statement "Islam is a threat to Western values and democracy", and 29% agreed more or less to that "people belonging to certain races simply are not suited to live in a modern society". One in five thought "it needs to be recognised as a fact that some nations are more intelligent than others", and 11% agreed partly or completely to "people whose appearance and culture differ much from those of the Finns are unpredictable and frightening".


Jewish leaders perceive an intensifying anti-Semitism in France, mainly among Muslims of Arab or Berber heritage.[20]

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 Central and Eastern Europe (mainly from Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Romania, including Slavic and Romani people) to be a very bad thing. Likewise, the majority of French respondents revealed negative views on the immigration of Muslims from Africa and Middle East. A small minority showed signs of anti-Semitism. Roughly 11% had an unfavorable view of Jews[21] and 8% felt that US policy was most influenced by the Jews.[22]


The period after losing World War I led to an increased use of anti-Semitism and other racism in political discourse, for example among the right-wing Freikorps, emotions that finally culminated in the ascent of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in 1933. The Nazi racial policy and the Nuremberg Race Laws against Jews and other non-Aryans represented the most explicit racist policies in Europe in the twentieth century. These laws deprived all Jews including even half-Jews and quarter-Jews as well as other non-Aryans from German citizenship. Jews official title became "subject of the state". The Nuremberg Race Laws forbid racially mixed sexual relations and marriage between Aryans and at first Jews but was later ended to "Gypsies, Negroes or their bastard offspring".[23] Such relations became a criminal and punishable offence under the race laws known as "racial pollution" Rassenschande.[23][24]


Racism and xenophobia are at medium level in Hungary;[25] the state offers a good level of formal protection in principle against intolerance according to a 2013 report,[26] but The Council of Europe has criticized Hungary in a new report, condemning xenophobia and violence against migrants and minorities.[27]

As in other European countries, the Romani people faced disadvantages, including unequal treatment, discrimination, segregation and harassment. Negative stereotypes are often linked to Romani unemployment and reliance on state benefits.[26] In 2008 and 2009 nine attacks took place against Romani in Hungary, resulting in six deaths and multiple injuries. According to the Hungarian curia (supreme court), these murders were motivated by anti-Romani sentiment and sentenced the preparators to life imprisonment.[26]

2013 FRA online survey shows a middle to high level of anti-Semitism in Hungary, compared to other European countries.[26] The banned Hungarian Guard and some Jobbik politicians are sometimes described as xenophobic and racist.[26]


Historically, the most serious racial problems in Ireland stemmed from the colonization of the country by the British, and the racist attitude of the colonists to the native Irish. The English considered themselves to be a distinct race from the Irish, who were classified as 'melanocroix', or 'half black' by Thomas Huxley. Depictions of the Irish in the popular British press throughout the centuries of British colonization were noted for their subhuman portrayal of the Irish (main article: Anti-Irish sentiment). Laws suppressing Irish culture and enfranchisement, outlawing the use of the language, education, and the practice of the local religion (Roman Catholicism) were enforced during various periods from the 14th century onward (see Statutes of Kilkenny and Penal Laws (Ireland)), only being fully repealed with the independence of Ireland from Britain in the early twentieth century (see Government of Ireland Act 1920).

20th Century

During the second world war, although Ireland was officially neutral, Prime Minister Eamon de Valera was accused of sympathizing with and supporting the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler in Germany. Following the death of Hitler in 1945 de Valera was one of many who signed a book of condolence and offered sympathies to the German Minister at the German Embassy in Dublin.[28] This led to the belief among Allied leaders such as Churchill that de Valera and the Irish in general were supportive of the Nazi regime.[29] The substantial influx of Nazi war criminals to Ireland following the war and their acceptance into society both officially by the Government of Ireland and by the general public also lead to claims Ireland was tolerant if not supportive of the Nazi regime.[30] However, it must also be born in mind that Germany had supplied guns to the Irish war of independence 20 years earlier, and so Irish sympathies to the Germans rather than their long-standing oppressors the British can easily be accounted for in this way, rather than due to anti-semitism. Historically, the Jewish community in Ireland has enjoyed support not enjoyed elsewhere in Europe. (Main article: History of the Jews in Ireland).

In mid-twentieth century Ireland there was traditionally very little immigration in general to the Republic of Ireland, and hence little racial diversity, though in recent decades growing prosperity in the country (see: Celtic Tiger) attracted increasing numbers of immigrants, mainly from Central and Eastern Europe (primarily Poland), China and Sub-Saharan Africa. Also the absence of 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 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 steady rise in racist attitudes among some sections of society. A 2001 survey found that 51% of Irish people surveyed considered the country inherently racist [31] and 60% of those in the 25 to 34 age-group considered "racism" to be an Irish trait. In 2005, Minister of State for Overseas Development, Conor Lenihan famously advised Socialist politician Joe Higgins to "stick with the kebabs" – referring to his campaigning on behalf of Turkish contract workers who had been paid less than the statutory minimum wage. The Minister later retracted his remarks and apologized.[32] A 2008 EU-MIDIS survey of attitudes to minorities in the 27 EU States found that Ireland had the most racist attitudes to Afro-Europeans in the entire EU.[33]

While most racist abuse in Ireland is verbal, violent hate crimes have occurred. In 2000, a white man was stabbed and seriously injured when defending his Jamaican-born wife from racist abuse by a group of adult men.[34] 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.[35] Later that year Leong Ly Min, a Vietnamese man who had lived in Dublin since 1979,[36] was mortally wounded by two assailants who had been racially abusing him.[37] In February 2008, two Polish mechanics, Paweł Kalita (29) and Mariusz Szwajkos (27) were attacked by a group of Dublin youths and died outside their home after each being stabbed in the head with a screwdriver. Those anti-Polish attacks are mostly driven by ethnicity-based racism, however they occasionally involve religion-based hate provoked by the anti-Catholic attitude of some Irish Protestant groups.[38] In 2010, 15-year-old schoolboy Toyosi Shittabey, born in Nigeria but brought up in Dublin, was killed. The only man to stand trial for the murder was acquitted on the direction of the trial Judge[39]

The Shelta or Irish Travellers, a nomadic social group once speaking their own language, have also experienced persecution in past and modern times throughout Ireland.

Recently, the Mayor of Naas Darren Scully was forced to resign on 22 November 2011 over comments on live radio about the "aggressive attitude" of "black Africans".[40][41] Former Labour TD Moosajee Bhamjee, a Muslim and Ireland's first and only non-white, non-Irish Member of Parliament, said Scully's remarks represented the "beginning of official racism" in Ireland and described them as "enlightenment" for the "neo-Nazi following in this country".[42]





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) and lesser number of sex discrimination cases. The Dutch Equal Treatment Commission brought out 261 judgements; 46 per cent of the cases were declared discrimination.[43] In the early 2012 the Dutch Right-wing Party for Freedom established an anti-Slavic (predominantly anti-Polish) and anti-Romani website, where native Dutch people could air their frustration about losing their job because of cheaper workers from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and other non-Germanic Central and Eastern European countries. This led to commentaries involving hate speech and other racial prejudice mainly against Poles and Roma, but also aimed at other Central and Eastern European ethnic groups.[44]






Romani people have become the main target of Slovenian racists in the 21st century as the population is otherwise extremely homogeneous.[45]


Gitanos are viewed with less sympathy than other groups.[46]

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 Afro-European players also have to act."[47]


In 1922 Sweden established the Statens institut för rasbiologi, or state institute for race biology.[48] The institute recommended the sterilization by force of the mentally ill, physically disabled, homosexuals and ethnic minorities, which was allowed by Swedish law until 1975.[49]

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.[50] European Network Against Racism in Sweden claims that in today's Sweden there exists a clear ethnic hierarchy when ethnic Swedes are at the top and non-European immigrants are at the bottom.[51]

Sveriges Radio reported that the punishments for driving under the influence of alcohol tended to be harsher for immigrants than for Swedes; while over 50% of immigrants were sent to jail for driving under the effect of alcohol, only less than 30% of ethnic Swedes were sent to jail with the same level of alcohol found in blood.[52] There has been evidence that the Swedish police used "Neger Niggersson" as a nickname for a criminal in a police training; this was published in Swedish media.[53] Lately however, many incidents of racial attitudes and discrimination of the Swedish police have led for the first time to the control of racial attitudes of police students under police education [54] A recent research done by the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees (TCO) found that people with foreign background have much lower chances of finding a job that is appropriate for their education, even when they have grown up in Sweden and got their education in Swedish institutes.[55]

In 2007, there were a total of 3,536 hate crimes (defined as crimes with an ethnic or religious motive) reported to the police, including 118 cases of anti-Semitic agitation.[56] Racism in Sweden is reported to appear within Swedish health-care services as well. A nurse at a Stockholm suburb hospital lost his job after complaining on racial attitudes of the hospital staff to patients with immigrant background. Staff was cited saying "go back to Arabia", "the patient is screaming because it's in his culture."[57]

Swedish social services have reported on racism in Swedish hospitals as well.[58] A study of statistics Sweden (SCB) reveals that segregation is widespread for Swedish immigrants when there are large differences in the fields of education, housing, employment and politics between immigrants and ethnic Swedes.[59] Sweden has been criticized by the UN human rights council for an increasing number of hate crimes which seldom resulted in criminal charges, when more hate crimes are Islamophobic, and homophobic, with an increasing amount of racist propaganda appearing on the internet and in Sweden's schools, for failing to provide adequate health care and education to immigrants, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants and the ongoing discrimination of the Roma and Sami minorities in Sweden.[60]

A study was conducted in 2011 about the Swedes attitudes to mixed marriages. The conclusion was that the views in general were favorable, but that there was a strong hierarchy based on which groups to live with. Swedes primarily preferred relationships with Scandinavians, Western Europeans and Southern Europeans, and then Eastern Europeans, Central Europeans and Latin Americans. At the bottom were South and East Asians, Africans, and Middle Eastern people. Older individuals and women, as well as people with less education and people who were brought up outside of Malmö (the most multicultural city of Sweden), were generally more prone to having negative attitudes. Most were able to accept family members and friends living in mixed relationships, even if they did not want to do it themselves.[61]

Swedish national television (SVT) has reported on a new research done in Sweden which identifies that job seekers with a Swedish name have 50% higher chances to be called for an interview than job seekers with middle-eastern names. The research enlightens that there is not much difference between foreign-born job seekers and job seekers born in Sweden if both don't have a Swedish name; this indicates that ethnic discrimination is the main cause of the variations.[62]

In 2012, Swedish Minister for Culture Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth was labelled a racist by The Afro-Swedish Society (Afro-svenskarnas riksförbund) because she cut up a cake in the shape of a naked African woman in public. Ironically, the cake was made by an Afro-Swedish artist.[63] [64] [65] [66]


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%).[67]

Swiss "Confederation Commission Against Racism" which is part of the Swiss "Federal Department of Home Affairs"[1] published a 2004 report, Black People in Switzerland: A Life between Integration and Discrimination [68] (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'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% of the foreign residents in Switzerland are European.[69] 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, notably for access to public services (e.g. health care), employment and lodging.[70][71]



United Kingdom

See also


  1. ^ Eurobarometer: Discrimination in the European Union Published January, 2007
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Cartoons of Prophet Met With Outrage Washington Post
  9. ^ DENMARK – Alleged ill-treatment – Veronica Ngozi Ugwuoha, Concerns in Europe, July – December 1997, Amnesty
  10. ^ Politi: De unge klager over racistiske betjente, by Andreas Lindquist, Politiken, 18 February 2008
  11. ^ Hells Angels: Immigrants must clean up their act, by Julian Isherwood, Politiken (2009-03-03)
  12. ^ Anti-gang package ready, by Julian Isherwood, Politiken (2009-03-04)
  13. ^ Government to double prison terms for gang members, The Copenhagen Post, Jyllandsposten (2009-03-05)
  14. ^ Responding to racism in Finland. European Network Against Racism
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Yhteiskuntatieteellinen tietoarkisto | | 2009.
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Pew Global Attitudes Project: Summary of Findings: A Year After Iraq War at the Wayback Machine (archived 16 December 2009) (2004-03-16)
  22. ^ Pew Global Attitudes Project: III: Opinions of U.S. Policies: U.S. Image Up Slightly, But Still Negative at the Wayback Machine (archived 11 December 2009)
  23. ^ a b
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ a b c d e
  27. ^
  28. ^ An Irish Statesman and Revolutionary by Elizabeth Keane (ISBN 978-1845111250), page 106
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Hidden History: Ireland's Nazis", broadcast by RTÉ - January 2007
  31. ^ Liam Collins. Ireland is a country of racists – at least the Irish think that's true – National News. (2001-05-27). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  32. ^ Michael O’Farrell. Lenihan under pressure to apologise for ‘kebab’ gaffe. The Irish Examiner (2005-05-19)
  33. ^ Jim Cusack. Ireland of the welcomes is a myth – Analysis, Opinion. (2010-04-11). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  34. ^ Tim Healy. Four charged with hatred in 'racist attack' on father, son – National News. (2001-05-19). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  35. ^ Murder sparks Irish racism fears, BBC News (2002-02-11)
  36. ^ Rally against racist attacks, Republican News (2002-08-29)
  37. ^ Death of a dream as racism rears its head in Ireland, The Times (2010-04-11)
  38. ^ [2]
  39. ^ Shane Hickey.
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ Art.1 – Art.1: landelijke vereniging die zich inzet voor het voorkomen en bestrijden van discriminatie at the Wayback Machine (archived 21 October 2007). Retrieved on 9 February 2014.
  44. ^ "Did you lose your job to a Pole, a Bulgarian, a Romanian, or any other Central or Eastern European? We would like to hear about it".Dutch far right opens anti-Polish hotline:
  45. ^ Slovenia: Chasing out the Roma. (2006-12-05). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  46. ^ Nuevas encuestas del CIS sitúan a los gitanos como el grupo social más rechazado, mientras que un estudio sociológico refleja los importantes avances de esta comunidad, 2007.
  47. ^ Eto'o makes anti-racism protest BBC News
  48. ^ race-biology institute
  49. ^ sterilization
  50. ^ The Local: Muslims face most racism in Sweden. (2012-05-20). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  51. ^ Responding to racism in Sweden. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  52. ^ Harder punishments to immigrants. (2004-04-22). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  53. ^ Racist stereotypes used in police training. (2012-05-20). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  54. ^ (Swedish) Control of police attitudes. (2009-09-14). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  55. ^ Academic immigrants discriminates in labour market. (2009-03-11). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  56. ^ Fundamental Rights Agency report (pdf). (PDF) . Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  57. ^ Nurse speaks out about racism. (2009-09-24). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  58. ^ Social services identify racism in Swedish hospitals. (2009-09-24). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  59. ^ Segregation 'widespread' for Swedish immigrants. (2012-05-20). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  60. ^ Sweden slammed for UN rights failures. Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  61. ^
  62. ^ Immigrants are not called for job interviews. Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  63. ^ Aftonbladet "Afrosvenskar kräver ministerns avgång" 2012-04-16. (2012-04-17). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  64. ^ Swedish minister denies claims of racism over black woman cake stunt. Guardian (2012-04-17). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  65. ^ Swedish minister in 'racist cake' controversy. (2012-04-18). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  66. ^ Swedish culture minister in 'racist cake' row. (2012-04-18). Retrieved on 2012-06-02.
  67. ^ Languages at the Wayback Machine (archived 19 August 2006). Swiss Federal Population Census 2000
  68. ^ Schwarze Menschen in der Schweiz. Ein Leben zwischen Integration und Diskriminierung at the Wayback Machine (archived 11 March 2005). (2004)
  69. ^
  70. ^
  71. ^

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • European Commission against Racism and Intolerance
  • European Network Against Racism
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