Muslims still subject of widespread discrimination, racism report shows

Islamophobia and discrimination towards sub-Saharan African asylum seekers an acute problem in Malta.

The findings suggest that the asylum seeker population are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
The findings suggest that the asylum seeker population are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims is widespread in many European countries and prejudice towards Muslims is often greater than that experienced by other religious or ethnic minority groups.

This is what the European Network Against Racism's shadow report on racism says about Europe today, and Malta's findings confirm a number of concerns as well as positive steps: the Muslim community is being generally homogenised with terms such as 'Arab', 'North African', and 'illegal immigrant', and that this general image is being played out against a national identity often described in terms of Roman Catholic roots.

FULL REPORT on Malta - download it here

Of an estimated 6,000 Muslims, approximately 5,250 are foreign citizens in either a regular or irregular immigration status, while 600 are naturalized citizens, and 150 are native-born citizens. "There was a general feeling amongst many of the research participants that the Muslim community in Malta tends to be essentialized and homogenized," the report says, citing respondents who complain that the Maltese don't differentiate between Libyans, Tunisians, or people coming Chad.

One respondent, Miriam, said: "They don't know that as Arabs we are in the millions, and twenty two countries! So you can't say 'the Arabs', so you know how many people you are talking about? I have no idea how they speak in Kuwait... I understand the Maltese more than I understand someone from Morocco. So how can we be one culture? We have different languages, apart from the language of school, different religions, Christian, Muslim and Jews, we are a mixture."

The ENAR report also found manifestations of discrimination in employment, citing research by UNHCR and Aditus during 2011 that found sub-Saharan asylum seekers continued to experience problems finding work, as well as facing exploitation and a regular denial of their basic rights on the workplace.

The findings suggest that the asylum seeker population are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

Sub-Saharan African asylum seekers found work in jobs described as "the 3 Ds" - dirty, dangerous, and degrading - in the form of manual labour, construction and cleaning. "For those who manage to find employment the average salary hovers around €500 per month. Thus in spite of employment, such individuals - the working poor - remain in relative poverty. Additional problems include unpaid wages, long working hours, irregular work, unsafe working conditions and employment in the underground economy."

On a positive note, the report highlights legal developments, including the broadened scope of equality legislation and greater awareness and engagement by NGOs and community organizations within the policy-making sphere, which have started to have a positive impact. Sub-Saharan African migrants continue to be the community most vulnerable to racism and discrimination.

Jean-Pierre Gauci, director of People for Change Foundations said: "We need to ensure that there is political will to challenge discrimination and promote equality. There is greater need for all stakeholders to work together, and for strategic and coherent actions to be implemented in order to overcome the challenges of racial and religious discrimination in Malta and across Europe."

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Islam/Muslim is not a race. Race or ethnicity is something you're born with and cannot change. Discriminating against someone based on the colour of their skin or their facial ("racial") features is obviously wrong. Religion is different, as are religious or cultural customs. I expect everyone in Malta to obey the law, religion or no religion. This includes the manner in which animals are slaughtered for meat for example. If your religion totally forbids you from eating meat slaughtered in any other ways, check out our vegetable markets. If a place of work has a uniform or dress code, you abide by it. If you insist on wearing a special head covering, find a place of work that does not have a dress code/uniform.
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The trouble is that Muslims do NOT want to integrate into the society of their adopted country, they "stick to their own". Another problem is that they expect their host country to adapt to THEIR way of life- not the other way round. If they want real Islam, there is plenty of room for them in Saudi, or Pakistan, or Sudan, etc.
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As a returned emigrant I can understand better the problem considering I too was an emigrant,I am Maltese by my parents birth, their parents birth and on and on. While I was in a foreign country that this foreign government payed part of my voyage because of my trade, I was considered by the locals as a 'THEYGO', 'DISPLACED PERSON','A WONABE' and other disrespectful remarks. When I spoke to other Maltese emigrants they told me to ignore them (the locals) I spoke their language I was never, repeat never given a penny when in need, either by the church or by the government to hang around and loft doing nothing but complain, I was a part time soldier, worked from job to job, anything to make ends meet. Respected the law and never cried fowl. I reasoned if I do not like the place or the place do not welcome me I return to my original home land. Last but not least I was discriminated because I was Catholic by some Protestants. So please if you are like me you can always go home.