Islamophobia is a specific form of racism and must be tackled in all its aspects. Muslims or those perceived to be Muslims suffer from discrimination, stigmatization and exclusion in all areas of life such as education, employment, vocational training, services and political participation. They also are direct targets of racist violence and of online and offline hate speech (ENAR). Islamophobia ranges from describing Muslims and Islam as backwards, a Trojan horse, contrary to Western and democratic values; to policies and legislative acts which actively target veiled Muslim women and Muslim civil society organisations.
Implicit and explicit Islamophobia have severe impact on young people in the receiving end of it, as it creates alienation which can lead loss of confidence, depression and widens the gap between the members of society from a young age. There are many stories of young people being bullied verbally and physically by fellow young people because they are Muslims or perceived Muslims. Therefore, its crucial to take tangible steps towards to tackling and educating about Islamophobia amongst the young people. Indeed, awareness sessions about Islamophobia should be compulsory for teachers and youth educators, as well should be in the education syllabus at schools to increase the awareness among the young people.
On an institutional level there is a dire need for individuals working there to be educated about Islamophobia and its implications, and have it integrated in the law and policies. Indeed, clearly defining and criminalising Islamophobia is a step forward towards combatting the phenomena.
Through the Campaigns department, FEMYSO has been running projects and campaigns since its foundation in 1997 on countering different forms of Islamophobia and empowering youth to bring their own voice to the decision-making table. For instance, the “Forgotten Women” project with ENAR, the toolkit for educators on countering discrimination with UNESCO and ODIHR, the ADVISE – Advocating Against Islamophobia in Education project with the Open Society Foundations and our latest “Your Vote, Your Voice” campaign on the European elections where we partnered with the European Parliament are such examples. Furthermore, as a youth- and volunteers-led NGO, FEMYSO’s volunteers are in fact mainly female. This shows once more that women are at the forefront of societal change, and their positive inputs and efforts deserve more respect than given. It also proves that within an environment of increasing targeting of Muslim women, they are in need of additional protections.
At current FEMYSO Is a partner of Project MEET- MEET: More Equal Europe Together which is an the EU-funded project which aims to prevent Islamophobia against women & girls by:
- Empowering key actors at the local level to build a culture of tolerance and respect
- Fostering a positive narrative of Muslim women and girls by engaging youth and young leaders.
The project involves six European countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Italy and Poland) and nine partners: Fondazione L’Albero della Vita (project coordinator) FEMYSO, Lab80Film, Partners Bulgaria Foundation, Pistes Solidaires, Polish Migration Forum, Pour La Solidarité, Progetto Aisha, Subjective Values Foundation