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Human Rights Watch wants stronger action against anti-Muslim racism in Germany amid hate crime surge

German parliament Berlin, Germany.

Human Rights Watch has urged German authorities to take stronger action against anti-Muslim racism, citing a concerning rise in racist attacks and hate crimes.

The organization stated on Tuesday that the German government is not adequately protecting Muslims and individuals perceived to be Muslims from racism amidst a surge in hate incidents and discrimination, Anadolu reported.

Germany’s Muslim communities have reported an increase in Islamophobic hate crimes following the escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict, attributed to biased media coverage and propaganda by far-right politicians.

Human Rights Watch expert Almaz Teffera emphasised the need for the German government to change its approach to addressing anti-Muslim racism and to improve reporting and monitoring of hate crimes targeting Muslims.

Teffera highlighted that the German government’s shortcomings in protecting Muslims stem from a failure to recognize that Muslims face racism beyond mere faith-based hostility.

Without a comprehensive understanding of anti-Muslim hate and discrimination in Germany, along with robust data on incidents and community engagement, the response by German authorities will likely be ineffective, according to Teffera.

Teffera stressed that Germany should invest in protecting Muslims and all minority communities as this would benefit German society as a whole.

Hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise in Germany. Official figures show that German police recorded 686 Islamophobic hate crimes and attacks between January and October last year, surpassing the previous year’s total of 610 such incidents.

Experts believe the actual number of incidents is likely higher, as Islamophobic and racist crimes are often misclassified by authorities or recorded as personal disputes or insults.

Many victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes do not report incidents due to a lack of trust in law enforcement and the absence of an effective complaints mechanism.

Human Rights Watch urged the German government to establish nationwide monitoring and data collection mechanisms based on clear indicators to equip authorities with the necessary knowledge and tools to tackle the problem.

According to the Alliance Against Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate (CLAIM), 2023 saw a significant increase in anti-Muslim incidents, with the group documenting an average of three such incidents per day in November alone.

In one incident, a man perceived to be Muslim was verbally abused as a “terrorist” when exiting a public bus, physically assaulted, and hospitalized due to his injuries.

Germany, with a population of over 84 million, is home to nearly 5 million Muslims, making it the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France.

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