Europe’s reinforced terrorism legislation is discriminating against Muslims and refugees.
In a report out on Tuesday, the campaign group Amnesty International says the legislation is “dangerously disproportionate” and is spreading fear and alienation.
Amnesty sounded the alarm over security measures adopted in 14 EU nations over the past two years.
During that time, an estimated 280 people have died in militant attacks in France, Belgium and Germany.
What Amnesty is saying
The report says the new measures following a 2014 UN Security Council resolution to crack down on foreign fighters and criminalise excusing or glorifying terrorism shrink space for freedom of expression.
“Governments looking at a person and saying:‘you look really suspicious to me. You visit community centres. You go to a specific mosque, and so I am going to restrict your behaviour because I think in the future, you might commit a crime.’ This is one of the most troubling aspects of the report and the information in the report,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s counter-terrorism expert and the report’s author.
“And we see governments that have already adopted these types of measures and we see other governments contemplating them.”
Hall warned that “draconian” surveillance measures and powers of search, detention and arrest like those introduced in France since 130 people were killed in November 2015 could be abused to target activists or minority groups that do not pose a genuine threat.
“For every measure that is reflected in it, there is a discriminatory element to it. The discrimination does disproportionately impact on Muslims, people perceived to be Muslim, foreigners, migrants and refugees.”
“And, what we see in Europe right now is it’s not a debate, it is more of a narrative. And the narrative right now is that if you are a Muslim or a refugee or a migrant, you are a threat.”
“And what we are trying to say with this report is that the measures that have been implemented by governments contribute to that narrative.”
The attacks in Europe, mostly claimed by ISIL, have fanned tensions over immigration, fuelled the popularity of right-wing parties and made security a key theme in the upcoming French, Dutch and German elections.
What does Amnesty want?
The group is calling on EU states to limit surveillance measures to individuals who are strongly suspected of wrongdoing.
Euronews fact check – how refugees are viewed in Europe
Recent research suggests views of refugees vary widely across European countries.
A 10-nation Pew Research Center survey found that negative views are more prevalent in countries in eastern and southern Europe.
- The majority of respondents in the UK, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands gave refugees a more favourable rating.
- The refugee crisis and the threat of terrorism seem to be closely related in the minds of Europeans.
- Most recent refugees are from majority Muslim nations like Syria and Iraq.
- In eight out of the 10 nations surveyed, half or more believe incoming refugees increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country.
- Many are also worried about the economic burden. Half or more in five nations say refugees will take away jobs and social benefits.
- Fears linking refugees and crime seem to be much less pervasive.
Muslims are not the only minority group viewed unfavourably by substantial percentages of Europeans.
The Pew study suggests that, overall, attitudes to Roma are more negative that attitudes towards Muslims.
Read the full report here