FEMYSO Condemns terror threats targeting Mosques in Norway and Stands in Solidarity with the Norwegian Muslim Community 

Recent threats targeting three Mosques in Oslo have plunged European Muslims into a state of fear for their safety and security. This foiled terror plot, echo the heinous Christchurch terrorist attack of 2019, where 51 worshippers were murdered. 

Rooted in the abhorrent far-right Great Replacement conspiracy theory and far-right extremism, these threats expose the surge in Islamophobia sweeping across Europe, casting a dark shadow over the fundamental rights and safety of Muslim citizens. Norway itself bore witness to such terror in 2011, when Anders Breivik perpetrated a terrorist attack, claiming the lives of 77 individuals. Breivik’s attack was fuelled by rampant Islamophobia, as outlined in his manifesto where he advocated for the mass expulsion of Muslims from Europe.  

During the sacred month of Ramadan, a time for spiritual reflection and devotion, Muslims should be able to practice their faith without fear or intimidation. Yet the spectre of violence roams largely, threatening the safety of our communities. Less than a month ago, we commemorated the fifth anniversary of the Christchurch terror attack in New Zealand, only to find ourselves confronted with the same vile hate embodied in these dangerous threats. 

We call upon the Norwegian authorities to treat these events with utmost seriousness and to take decisive action to prevent potential Islamophobic attacks. The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST)’s decision to arm the police is a minimum measure, however, more must be done to proportionately address the threat posed by poisonous ideologies sowing division and hatred. 

Yet, it is deeply troubling that the PST1 has not classified these threats as terrorism, raising serious concerns about the adequacy of responses to the rising tide of Islamophobia and far-right extremism. 

FEMYSO stands in solidarity with our member organisation Norges Unge Muslimer (NUM) and expresses deep concern for the safety of Norwegian Muslims. FEMYSO President Hania Chalal stated that “These threats constitute only a symptom of a major disease eroding the democratic fabric of Europe: Islamophobia. At its worst, Muslims are left vulnerable and in fear for their lives, which is intolerable in our European societies.” 

Moreover, the inadequate data on hate crimes against Muslims in Europe highlights the pressing need for more firm policy action. With many countries lacking a specific category for such crimes and others failing to record them all together2, the reported numbers, such as Germany’s 610 cases, Sweden’s 500 cases3, and the Netherlands’ 161, likely represent only a fraction of the actual crimes.  


Failure to act decisively and urgently will pose an even greater risk to our collective security. The scourge of Islamophobia extends beyond Norway’s borders, plaguing nations across Europe.  

We demand concrete measures to be taken to protect places of worship and urge European leaders to confront Islamophobia head-on and ensure the safety of their respective Muslim communities. 

 
[END] 

Notes :  

1. FEMYSO (est. 1996) is a network organisation for 32 Muslim youth and student organisations across 22 European countries, and is the leading voice for European Muslim youth, developing and empowering them, and working to build a more diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe.   

2. For more information or requests please email media@femyso.org 

References:

  1. Oslo-politiet bevæpner seg etter trusler på nettsted (vg.no)
  2. PACE-submission-Islamophobia-1-June-2022.pdf (amnesty.eu) 
  3. Anti-Muslim hate crime | HCRW (osce.org)

International Day to Combat Islamophobia

In the name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
All praise and thanks belong to God, the Lord of the Worlds,
May peace and prayers be upon Prophet Muhammad


On behalf of the communities we serve in our respective countries around the world, the undersigned Muslim organizations today commemorate the UN’s Second International Day to Combat Islamophobia. We do so by calling the attention of those committed to advancing justice for all people to injustices being perpetrated by the governments of Israel, India, China, and France.


Israel’s decades of occupation and apartheid have arrived at a predictable conclusion: genocide in Gaza. Some states, such as South Africa, have asserted international humanitarian values. Other states, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, have provided military aid and political comfort to Israel while ignoring the daily stream of videos documenting Gaza’s reduction to rubble and Palestinian civilians crying for food, medicine, or over their dead children.


This latest cycle of Middle East violence has impacted our constituencies as a spike in hate against Muslims in Western countries who speak up for Palestinian human rights accompanies Israel’s onslaught.


India’s far-right, anti-Muslim government continues its repression of religious and racial minorities in that nation, particularly Muslims. Early this year, Prime Minister Modi continued to weaponize faith in his nation when he inaugurated a temple on the site of the former Babri Mosque, which was destroyed in 1992 by Hindutva nationalist mobs.

The Chinese government advanced efforts to “Sinicize” Islam in that nation by erasing mosques and Muslim cemeteries and implementing policies of internment and forced labor for ethnic and religious minorities in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.

France continued efforts to erase visible clothing associated with an individual’s Islamic identity from public spaces. Most recently, the government banned Muslim students from wearing the abaya, a long, flowing robe-like garment worn by many Muslim women. Education Minister Gabriel Attal said in an interview with TV channel TF1, “When you walk into a classroom, you shouldn’t be able to identify the pupils’ religion just by looking at them.” Other French Ministers even admitted that though the abaya is not a religious garment, students will be targeted based on their assumed religion thereby further legalizing religious discrimination against French Muslims.

Last year, Muslim organizations came together to make a joint call to action. In 2024 and in light of the above, we make the following calls to action:

  1. Nations should recognize the UN International Day to Combat Islamophobia and in particular strongly call on the above nations to abandon anti-Muslim activities.
  2. Muslim-majority nations should take the opportunity of today’s commemoration to challenge Islamophobia generally and the above nations specifically.

The groups joining together on this statement commit to continuing to work in their respective nations and regions to promote an international norm in which respect for human rights and diversity of religions and beliefs is valued through political action.

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) (Australia)
Collective for Countering Islamophobia in Europe (CCIE) (Europe)
Comité Justice & Libertés Pour Tous (France)
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) (USA)
Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO) (Europe)
March 15th Forum, Combating Islamophobia (USA)
MPower Change (USA)
Muslim Rights Watch Netherlands (Netherlands)
Islamophobia Studies Center (USA)
Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project (USA)
International Islamophobia Studies and Research Association (multiple nations)
Islamophobia Studies Journal (multiple nations)
Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) (UK)
US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) (USA)

URGENT CALL FOR CEASEFIRE AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE FACE OF HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE IN GAZA AND THE WEST BANK 

As we enter the fourth month of the relentless war in Gaza and the escalation of violence in the West Bank, it has become increasingly evident that the situation is not only a dire humanitarian crisis but also a serious violation of human rights that contravene the very tenets of international law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Reports from United Nations experts underline these violations, emphasising the urgent need for accountability for crimes that may amount to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity1.  

Among the most heinous aspects of this onslaught has been the deliberate and systematic targeting of journalists which constitutes a direct assault on the principles of freedom of speech and the public’s right to information. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports that at least 81 journalists have been killed in the Gaza Strip in the last three months and calls on the UN Security Council to reinforce Resolution 2222, ensuring better protection for journalists in conflict zones2.  

A staggering number of Palestinians, which exceeds 23,000, have been killed3 in Gaza, while 26 out of the territory’s 35 hospitals are no longer operating. The plight of women and children is particularly grave. There have been 12,882 women and children killed, with an additional harrowing statistic: on average every day 10 children day lose one or both legs4 while 50,000 pregnant women5 endure extreme hardships, facing what UNFPA has called a “double nightmare”6.  

The UNRWA has reported, as of December 12, that nearly 85% of Gaza’s population, approximately 1.9 million people, are internally displaced, with many experiencing displacement multiple times7.  
The disproportionate bombardments and the inhumane blockade imposed on Gaza led to severe deprivation for the 2.3 million residents, escalating the crisis to critical levels of disease, with an ever-increasing risk of famine.  
Equally alarming is the destruction of educational structures and holy sites8 with a total of 339 educational facilities having been either completely destroyed or severely damaged, and 167 religious sites, including mosques and churches, being demolished.  

Furthermore, the targeting of various UN agencies in the region, notably UNRWA, has been severe and alarming. As of January the 1st, a tragic total of 142 UNRWA staff members have been killed9. These attacks further impede the advancement of humanitarian work in the region, underlining the critical challenges faced in these efforts.  
 
The widespread destruction of homes, hospitals, educational facilities and holy sites as well as the undermining of humanitarian aid is a harrowing testament to the brutality and severity of this onslaught. It speaks volumes on the humanitarian catastrophe we are witnessing and the need for an immediate cessation of violence alongside accountability. 

Therefore, FEMYSO joins the global call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire to halt the human suffering of the Palestinian people. The continuous bloodshed and destruction must come to an end.  

The EU must reassess and modify its current foreign policy, especially concerning arms trade agreements that may contribute to further escalation of violence in the region. There is a strong need for a responsible approach that advocates for a ceasefire, for peace, sovereignty and self-determination of the Palestinian people. We commend the courageous politicians who have already spoken out against these atrocities and urge Member States to stand on the right side of history by supporting South Africa’s submission of preliminary measures to the International Court of Justice10

FEMYSO continues to work in collaboration with its Member Organisations and partners for a diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe, where everyone lives based on the principles of the rule of law, respect and human dignity – values which FEMYSO wishes to see exercised worldwide. 

[ENDS] 

Notes : 

1. FEMYSO (est. 1996) is a network organisation for 32 Muslim youth and student organisations across 22 European countries, and is the leading voice for European Muslim youth, developing and empowering them, and working to build a more diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe.  

2. For more information or requests please email media@femyso.org 

References:

  1. Gaza: UN experts call on international community to prevent genocide against the Palestinian people | OHCHR. 
  2. RSF calls for emergency UN Security Council meeting on Israeli violations of Resolution 2222 on protecting journalists | RSF
  3. Gaza: One in 100 people has been killed since October 7 | CNN
  4. GAZA: More than 10 children a day lose a limb in three months of brutal conflict | Save the Children International.
  5. Facts and figures: Women and girls during the war in Gaza | UN Women – Headquarters.
  6. ‘I’m scared for my unborn child’: Gaza’s pregnant women prepare to give birth in a war zone | CNN.
  7. Most of Gaza’s Population Remains Displaced and in Harm’s Way | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org).
  8. Widespread destruction in Gaza puts concept of ‘domicide’ in focus | Israel-Gaza war | The Guardian.
  9. UNRWA Situation Report #59 on the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem | UNRWA.
  10.  Application instituting proceedings and Request for the indication of provisional measures (icj-cij.org)

 

FEMYSO responds to the alarming rise in Islamophobia across Europe due to the human rights violations in Palestine

The Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO) is deeply concerned about the alarming rise in Islamophobia in the wake of the escalating conflict in Palestine and Israel. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims and their families. Recent events have once again shed light on the urgent need for international action to address the root causes of this prejudice and to promote peace, justice, and respect for all.

Islamophobia perpetuates a cycle of discrimination and hatred against Muslim communities, making it essential to understand that this prejudice does not reflect the values of the majority but is perpetuated by a minority who exploit conflict to advance their hateful ideologies. 

FEMYSO calls upon governments and law enforcement agencies in Europe to address the issue of discriminatory policing. No one should be subjected to biased profiling, harassment, or unequal treatment based on their religion, ethnicity, or origin. It is the duty of governments to uphold the principles of justice, equality, and human rights for all their citizens, irrespective of their background.

It is only through dialogue, cooperation, and respect for international law and an end to the occupation that we can hope to bring an end to this long-standing crisis, and with it, the associated Islamophobia and discriminatory policing targeting Muslim populations in Europe protesting against injustice. 

These protests are inspired by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. European governments and institutions should prioritise diplomatic efforts to prevent further loss of life and casualties, instead of providing “carte blanche” to the security apparatus to punish those emotionally affected by the situation. 

FEMYSO believes that countering Islamophobia requires collaborative efforts. Our organisation commits to working hand in hand with European governments, educational institutions, and civil society organisations to challenge stereotypes, promote dialogue, and foster a sense of unity and belonging among all citizens, regardless of their religious or ethnic backgrounds.

We call on the European media to responsibly report on conflicts, ensuring that coverage is balanced, unbiased, and devoid of any negative stereotypes that can perpetuate Islamophobia. Likewise, it is imperative for governments to protect the rights of all their citizens, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, and to hold those who engage in hate crimes accountable for their actions.

We reiterate our commitment to promoting peace, justice, and intercultural understanding. It is only through collective efforts and the rejection of hatred and prejudice that we can hope for a future where all people, regardless of their faith, can live in harmony and mutual respect. 

We call on European leaders to work together in addressing this pressing issue and creating a more inclusive and peaceful world for all.

[ENDS]

Notes 

1. FEMYSO (est. 1996) is a network organisation for 32 Muslim youth and student organisations across 22 European countries, and is the leading voice for European Muslim youth, developing and empowering them, and working to build a more diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe. 

2. For more information or requests please email media@femyso.org 

Smear Campaign Investigation Statement

Following the truly shocking revelations outlined in a yearlong joint investigation by European Investigative Collaborations with articles published today in NRC, Mediapart and De Spiegel, our organisation would like to call for accountability and immediate action.

As one of the oldest European youth organisations, our credible track record backed by years of partnership and collaboration was completely disregarded by the very institutions which should have protected us. Volunteer-led organisations, live and die by their reputation, this multi-year 5-million-euro campaign aims to destroy our organisation and drive the young people we represent out of public life.

As outlined in the article, this smear campaign led to increased censorship towards our organisation by European institutions notably the European Commission and Council of Europe, including the removal of our representatives from the agendas of events they were due to address and removal from youth advisory bodies with no ability for dialogue provided.

Our organisation was left with very few allies as we became a toxic brand, however, leaders like Commissioner Helena Dalli and director of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Michael O’Flaherty, and organisations like the European Youth Forum must be applauded as they were willing to show solidarity and be on the right side of history.

It is deeply concerning when any foreign entity tries to influence our leaders and politics. What separates Europe from the rest of the world is our thriving civil society, this campaign aimed to destroy this, and this is why we call on the European Ombudsman to investigate the impacts of this campaign on the engagement of EU institutions with our organisation.

We categorically refute and condemn any attempts to link our organisation to any political or ideological party, group or movement. We have proven throughout the years that our sole objective is to work for a diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe.

[ENDS] 

 

 

Notes 

  1. Find here a full list of the articles: https://eic.network/projects/abu-dhabi-secrets.html
  2. An exclusive interview of FEMYSO’s president (in Dutch): https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2023/07/07/dit-schimmige-bedrijf-vernietigde-met-succes-de-reputaties-van-europese-moslims-a4169074
  3. FEMYSO (est. 1996) is a network organisation for 31 Muslim youth and student organisations across 21 European countries, and is the leading voice for European Muslim youth, developing and empowering them, and working to build a more diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe. 

  4. For more information or requests please email media@femyso.org 

 

 

 

 

European Parliament Greens/EFA Group letter in support of FEMYSO after Racist attacks at EYE 2023

Brussels, 16 June 2023

Dear President Metsola,

We are writing this letter to you, knowing your firm commitment to the values of unity and diversity of our institution. It is with great concern that we have received information of racist and Islamophobic harassment, which took place at the European Youth Event on 9 and 10 June in Strasbourg.

This phenomenal event is a celebration of democracy, which brings together thousands of young people from all over the European Union and the world, to share and shape their ideas on Europe’s future. It is a unique opportunity for 16 to 30 year olds to interact, inspire each other and exchange their views with experts, activists, influencers and decision-makers, right in the heart of European democracy.

According to the event’s official website, the EYE strives to promote equality, inclusiveness and sustainability with a strong commitment to accessibility for everyone. However, in the past years, there have been growing concerns about the behavior of far right participants at the event. Their racist and discriminatory actions have been blatant, disregarding the code of conduct of the event.

An open letter by over 148 MEPs condemned the events already in 2021, calling on the EP President Sassoli to take immediate action. The incidents were also reported in the press. President Sassoli replied to the letter, condemning the hateful treatment of attendees. He promised that an internal investigation would be initiated, and measures to identify the perpetrators and to evaluate necessary needs would be taken.

Despite this, the harassment and discrimination of participants continued again this year. Attendees wearing Identity and Democracy Group lanyards engaged in discriminatory conduct towards other attendees of the event. In an organized manner, they filled many seats in sessions addressing topics of inclusivity and migration, with the intention to cause disorder within these sessions, and in some cases, harass participants and facilitators.

Furthermore, as participants would leave the sessions, the individuals concerned would approach participants that were identifiable as Muslims due to their headscarf, or target individuals wearing the t-shirt of FEMYSO, the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations. These individuals would engage with the participants in an intimidating manner, preventing the participants from attending other sessions.

To our knowledge, persons affected by discriminatory behaviour were mostly members of FEMYSO, the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations, a pan-European network of 31 Member Organisations across 21 countries, responsible for bringing a delegation of 100 young Muslims from across Europe to the heart of our democracy. In an escalation of the intimidation, pictures were taken without consent of other youth participants (one was known to be underage), and distributed by far right participants across online platforms.

We have received testimonies of the harassment and discriminatory behaviour, and have seen screenshots of the insulting online posts. Many participants report feeling extremely unsafe, especially when they discovered images of them appearing on tweets by the far right youth. While many had thought that European spaces were inclusive, and promoted equality, their lived experiences were one of discrimination, harassment, and intimidation.

It is essential to grant young activists safe and equal opportunities to engage with EU institutions. This atmosphere of fear and intimidation needs to be stopped. The European Parliament is a world-class institution representing nearly 450 million people. Our Union has over 71 million young people, representing 16% of our population, who remain highly underrepresented in both national and international parliaments.

In light of the upcoming European elections in 2024, and in the aftermath of the European Year of Youth, we call on the leadership of the European Parliament to strengthen democracy and unity – not to allow hate and divide to rule our common peace project.

Therefore, we ask you, President Metsola, to:

  • Come forward with an open statement condemning the intimidation and
    discriminatory behaviour which took place at the EYE in 2023,
  • produce a clear action plan on the measures which will be taken by the European
    Parliament to hold the islamophobic and racist participants accountable, and
  • show solidarity and offer direct support to the persons affected by the violence.

Yours sincerely,

Terry REINTKE and Philippe LAMBERTS
Co-Presidents of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament

Statement in Response to racist attacks at European Youth Event (EYE) 2023

Once again FEMYSO was incredibly proud to bring together a delegation of 100 young people from over 22 countries to engage with key European institutions. The objectives of this delegation were to promote intercultural dialogue and exchange, as well as to encourage the participation of young people from diverse backgrounds in the democratic process by demystifying and bringing them closer to European institutions. 

Unfortunately, members of our delegation were subjected to racist and islamophobia abuse, by far-right activists sponsored to attend by far-right MEPs. This abuse took place in the online and offline space and was truly threatening to the young Muslims in attendance.  

Sadly, this is not the first time our membership has been attacked in this manner, at the last event in 2021 a far-right delegation harassed members of both the FEMYSO delegation and that of #DiasporaVote to the extent that extra security was provided upon the departure of these vulnerable young people to ensure this could not continue. This deplorable act of aggression was rightly condemned by the leadership of European institutions, with a letter signed by 152 European parliamentarians calling for an inquiry into this incident submitted shortly after. 

We call upon the leadership of the host institutions to: 

  • Condemn this deplorable behaviour and rhetoric in a public statement  
  • Produce an action plan on measures that can be taken to address the threat of these actions which have now taken place at multiple EYE’s 
  • Revoke the ability for those who engage in abusive behaviour to take part in such an event.  

FEMYSO and our membership remain undeterred by those who sought to divide and exclude Muslim and other marginalised youth from public life. We will continue with our mission to work towards a diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe for all.  
 

[ENDS] 

Notes 

1. FEMYSO (est. 1996) is a network organisation for 31 Muslim youth and student organisations across 21 European countries, and is the leading voice for European Muslim youth, developing and empowering them, and working to build a more diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe. 

2. For more information or requests please email media@femyso.org 

FEMYSO New Yorker Statement

Following the release of an investigatory expose by The New Yorker Magazine, the origins of myths constantly used to attack our organization have finally been exposed as being part of a 5.7 million Euro campaign funded by a foreign entity.  

Whilst this information is not new to our organization, the willingness of a mainstream outlet like the New Yorker to publish this story is a clear indication of the legitimacy of the points we have been making for a number of years. 

In the article it is revealed that as part of an orchestrated campaign against FEMYSO, a Swiss PR agency ALP executed several targeted actions. ALP created the character Tanya Klein, a fictional journalist and hired a freelance writer to create content under this alias. “Klein” published several articles outlining the myth that FEMYSO was part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some of these articles were featured or cited by reputable news outlets and have now been deleted from the record without acknowledgment of the fictitious nature and the harm done through their publication – see an example below. 

 

2019 

Today 

The conspiracy theory propagated by Klein which implies that our organisation is the youth wing of the Muslim Brotherhood relies heavily on the work of Lorenzo Vidino – a right-wing academic funded by ALP. The New Yorker article raises questions as to whether he placed financial incentives above academic rigor. As such, questions must be also asked about how such a figure is still engaged with seriously by our policymakers. Unlike our policymakers, several colleagues have severed ties with Vidino since the publication of the article.  

FEMYSO President Hande Taner said: “The plan was simple; it was to bury our organization and make it a pariah which could not be engaged with. For what reason, we simply do not know, given that FEMYSO is a fully volunteer-led organization empowering minority youth and campaigning against Islamophobia and other forms of racism. 

With important elections due to take place over both sides of the Atlantic in the coming 18 months, our policymakers need to get serious about tackling misinformation, regardless of the financial incentive to remain quiet. Our democracies must not and cannot be bought.” 

We would like to offer the ability for dialogue with those that took part in the mass disinformation campaign in the form of private or public meetings to discuss specific accusations and next steps. Furthermore, our easily available FAQ page can provide further clarifications on our organization and its governance.  

We call upon our European leaders to investigate this matter in full and without any delay. In the face of all that seek to prevent our mission, we remain committed to working towards a more diverse, cohesive and vibrant Europe for all.  

 

International Day of Education 2023

In the Islamic tradition education is seen as a responsibility for each and every individual as a key facet of their lives.  

ٱقْرَأْ بِٱسْمِ رَبِّكَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ 

Recite in the name of your Lord who created – 

خَلَقَ ٱلْإِنسَٰنَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ 

Created the human being from a clinging substance. 

ٱقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ ٱلْأَكْرَمُ 

Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous – 

ٱلَّذِى عَلَّمَ بِٱلْقَلَمِ 

Who taught by the pen – 

عَلَّمَ ٱلْإِنسَٰنَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ 

Taught the human being that which he knew not. 

(Al Quran 96:1-5) 

 

As an organisation a pillar of our work is training: we are proud to have trained over 240 Muslim youth from across Europe on topics ranging from active citizenship, advocacy, sustainability, mental health awareness and much more.  

 

However, Muslims students often face unequal access to educational resources and high-quality education due to institutional and structural racism that segregates students, leaving them with fewer and lower-quality education than their counterparts.  
 
“At current our education system is simply not fit for purpose, this must change in order to harness the potential of all people across our region. The curricula must be updated and representative in order to provide the young people of today the necessary skills which will allow them to function in an economic system that unfairly disadvantages them, racialised youth face an even greater challenge.”  Hande Taner, President, FEMYSO 

To ensure that all students have equal access to educational resources, European institutions and national governments must continue to strive towards closing the education gap and promoting legislation that seeks to address unequal access to high quality education.  

As FEMYSO we will continue our mission to advocate on behalf Muslim students to help create an education system which works for all regardless of background or faith – on our journey towards a more diverse, vibrant and cohesive Europe. 

World Mental Health Day 2022 

FEMYSO considers the topic of mental health as a key issue and this is why mental health education on a cross-societal level is one of our thematic priorities. It is a necessity to dismantle specific stereotypes that impact young people from minority backgrounds and marginalized groups that not only have to handle their mental well-being and tackle institutional barriers, but are also faced with the lack of access to resources and taboos surrounding mental health.   

Research examining the consequences of COVID-19 on racialized communities highlighted the substantial negative impact on wellbeing and mental health outcomes (CAI, 2021). This is why we have every intention to focus on normalising this discussion in our communities and wider society and debunking misconceptions around mental health in general. 
 

In this spirit, FEMYSO organized a one-week training course in collaboration with the Council of Europe, the Mind the Gap Study Session which resulted in the production of a Mental Health Booklet.  

This booklet due to be published in the coming weeks seeks to be an introduction to various topics associated with mental health in our communities and organizations as activists. Our hope is to reach different Muslim communities and organizations in Europe to raise awareness, offer support through effective examples of good practice and start a long-overdue conversation. 

We call upon European authorities on a local, national and international level to implement the following:  

  • Promote equal mental health care for all.  
  • Protect, raise awareness and promote mental health issues, particularly those concerning minority groups. 
  • Provide more accessible and affordable mental health support through easy access to information and to in-person services. 
  • Professionals should have a better understanding of cultural and faith beliefs of minority ethnic communities and how these impacts on beliefs and behaviours around mental health 
  • Training on unconscious bias and stereotyping for school counsellors and psychologists to be able to address the issues that students from racialized communities, including Muslims face adequately. 

As FEMYSO we will continue our mission to recognize the needs and advocate on behalf of those often forgotten and stigmatized, in order to fulfil our mission of working towards a more diverse, vibrant and cohesive Europe for all.