The European Action Day Against Islamophobia (EADAI) is an annual event on the 21st of September and marks a major opportunity to raise awareness on the issue of anti-Muslim hatred. It was established by the advocacy and campaigning of FEMYSO together with other organizations and institutions. EADAI creates the opportunity to share facts, lived experiences, and tools to address Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe. To mark this day, FEMYSO organized a conference hosted at the European Parliament, Brussels, to bring together young Muslims from across the continent with stakeholders at an EU institutional level. In 2023, EADAI is more critical than ever as we witness the rise in Islamophobia in most European countries and its normalization by governing institutions.
The conference hosted approximately 40 young Muslim youth leaders from across Europe and featured two panels with Q&A sessions after each. FEMYSO’s Vice-President Nadia El Faroukhi opened the Conference and highlighted the importance of the event in the current political landscape. Her words were followed by a keynote speech by the honourable MEP Brando Benifei who has always been an incredible ally for the cause of Muslim youth.
The first panel was titled ‘Islamophobia in 2023: Shrinking of the civic space, and top-down vs. bottom-up challenges’ and was chaired by James Kanter, political commentator and host of the podcast EUScreams. Attendees heard from academics, journalists, and human rights advocates on the current European context and anti-Muslim hatred. The panelists were Shada Islam, political commentator and analyst, Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s EU Office, and Farid Hafez, co-editor of the annual European Islamophobia Report). After the session, several participants asked pertinent questions and there were contacts exchanged between speakers and attendees to continue the conversations beyond the event.
The second panel’s title was forward-looking, and covered “Safe-guarding future-policies, 2024 EP Elections and Muslim European Voters”. Areeq Chowdhury, Head of Policy at the Royal Society and Labour Party Councillor from the UK, shared his expertise and answered questions on the issue of discrimination in AI. The contributions of Hania Chalal, activist and the former president of Muslim Students of France (Etudiants Musulmans de France – EMF), were insightful for the situation of French Muslim women and advocacy in the aftermath of the French abaya ban in schools. FEMYSO was pleased to host the Director of the European Network Against Racism, Kim Smoulter, and the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the European Youth Forum, Ozgecan Kara.
The role that institutions have in upholding and spreading anti-Muslim sentiment, is a topic especially poignant to FEMYSO, due to the shocking revelations this year from the smear campaign that FEMYSO and other major organizations faced. As revealed in a year-long joint investigation by European Investigative Collaborations, this campaign aimed to destroy FEMYSO’s reputation and marginalize the young people we represent in public life. It has resulted in increased censorship and the removal of our representatives from important events and youth advisory bodies and has hindered the historical cooperation between European institutions and FEMYSO. FEMYSO, therefore, is calling for clear and effective European strategies to tackle the growing issue of systemic Islamophobia.
With the endemic stigmatization and exclusion of Muslims from all areas of life, FEMYSO wants to create a space to discuss future-looking policies and how these are likely to affect the lived experience of young Muslims in Europe. With the known concerns of bias in artificial intelligence systems, and how this risk impacts young people in the job market, in their access to education, or simply existence in public spaces; upcoming European Elections, and the expected rise in Islamophobic rhetoric; FEMYSO believes that it is vital that diverse stakeholders are brought together to discuss policies on these critical issues.
On Thursday 21st of September 2023, FEMYSO was proud to have hosted an event that explored the different manifestations of Islamophobia, with specific attention to youth. Different institutional representatives and civil society organizations working on youth, education, and discrimination presented their inputs and findings to ensure an inclusive and effective approach to addressing Islamophobia. In line with our human rights to freedom of faith and right to security, it is essential that young Muslims are free to practice their faith and in their rights as individuals in Europe today. We look forward to welcoming more attendees at next year’s conference, EADAI24.
Please find the recording of panel discussions using the following links:
- Panel discussion 1: https://fb.watch/nCuhvYyqjR/
- Panel discussion 2: https://fb.watch/nCudz_1TNW/
For more information or media inquiries, reach out to FEMYSO’s Head of Media at firstname.lastname@example.org.