Antisemitism in Europe

Working Group on Antisemitism Meeting

14 April 2015 Statement

On 14 April 2015 the European Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism met to discuss the rising problem of Antisemitism within Muslim Communities. The meeting was chaired by the group’s co-chair Cecilia Wikström MEP. Around 30 MEP’s from across the political groups and from 16 member states attended the meeting.

MEP Wikström stressed that because it is such a sensitive topic, it has to be addressed and we must not allow this topic to be hijacked by extremists. She also mentioned the issue of a lack of research on this phenomenon.

Haras Rafiq, Managing Director of the Quilliam Foundation in the United Kingdom addressed the MEPs, outlining the problem. He stressed the need to take the antisemitic narratives falsely attributed to the Quran, head on and the need to recognise that antisemitism is in not in the DNA of Islam but it is in the DNA of Islamism.

He further emphasized the role social media has in terms of having reduced the age of young Muslims targeted by Islamist groups “The average age of the young men and women going to Syria and Iraq is 14-25. It is crucial to work with social media stakeholders to counter radicalisation. Taking down websites is not good enough. For every 1100 websites taken down (by the UK Government, for example), there are 2000 new ones going up. What is important is to implement counter narratives online, as well as to contextualise the scriptural reasoning the extremists use to base their hatred on religion.”

Haras Rafiq implied that an individual doesn’t go on the Internet to buy a pair of shoes and end-up becoming a jihadist. He highlighted the five key aspects of radicalisation and antisemitic narratives: Intellectual, ideological, emotional, social, spiritual aspects saying, “these narratives need to be deconstructed. People are living parallel lives. Even I am a slave to social media. People live one life in the real world, and one online. Inter-faith is great, but we need more interaction online. I got my first death threat in 2006; five people in our organisation are currently under death threats. This is the reality of how we live.”

Haras Rafiq recommended working with Facebook, Twitter and Google and increase what he calls social incubators. Bring people together so that we can fight back online.

Aycan Demirel, co-founder of the Kreuzberg Initiative against Antisemitsm explained that this organisation was built as a reaction to the rise of antisemitism with the goal to develop strategies against this surge. They work with Muslim youth that are not radicalised as such, but have antisemitic views. They also train teachers who work with teenagers within neighbourhoods where 80-90% of pupils are Muslim.

Siavosh Derakhti founder of the non-profit organisation Young People against Antisemitism and Xenophobia explained that antisemitism has always been a big issue in Malmo. Many Muslims blame Jews in Malmo for the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

He stressed the importance of the residents of Malmo standing up for their Jewish citizens. He said, “We must ensure that Jews can feel safe in Europe. Today they are not safe. I started by initiating a class trip to Auschwitz. I wanted to build a bridge between Jews and Muslims. I then continued fighting against antisemitism and started a non-profit organisation. We lecture on antisemitism and xenophobia in schools and inspire young people to make a change and train youth ambassadors to lead their own groups in the future. We also organise trips to concentration camps, and invite survivors to speak to our young ambassadors.”

Like Haras Rafiq, Siavosh Derakhti stated that he had been threatened many times, from phone calls, emails and on Facebook. These threats include statements such as “they will slap me, gas me, and send me in a body bag back to my country. But I ask them, which is my country? I am Swedish, I was born in Sweden.”

Siavosh Derakhti defined the origins of the hatred as coming from the extreme left wing, the extreme right wing, and the extreme Muslim groups.

The meeting was concluded with the intervention from representatives from European Commissioner Vera Jorouva’s Cabinet who stated that the input from the meeting would be taken on board and assessed further as part of the first Colloquium that will be held on the 1st and 2nd October 2015.

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S&D STRONGLY CONDEMN ANTI-SEMITIC ATTACKS BY JOBBIK PARTY IN HUNGARYSocialists and Democrats strongly condemn anti-Semitic attacks by Jobbik Party in Hungary _Page_1

Socialists and Democrats strongly condemn anti-Semitic attacks by Jobbik Party in Hungary _Page_2

Statements

Statement following the Working Group meeting held 4th March 2015

On Wednesday, March 4,2015, the European Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism, held an official  meeting to urge Members of the European Parliament (MEP) and the European Union institutions to take viable measures to secure the safety of European Jewry and combat rising AntiSemitism.
 
The meeting was chaired  by Spain’s former minister of justice and MEP, Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, alongside Vice-Chair, Cecilia Wikström MEP.
 
The meeting was attended by around 25 cross-party MEP’s from 16 different European member states. High-profile expert speakers were invited to take the floor including: Paul Nemitz, Director for Fundamental Rights and Justice at the European Commission, Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, Head of Equality and Citizen Rights’ Department at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, and Baron Julien Klener, President of the Consistoire Central Israélite de Belgique.
 
Baron Klener, opened the meeting by presenting his personal experience and academic knowledge in this area, which truly touched all those present. He personified the disappointment and fear felt by Jewish communities today, only 70 years after the liberation from Nazism
 
An incidents report was distributed in which the darkening times and real threats posed to Jewish communities across Europe was very clearly demonstrated. The Chairman accentuated the rate at which Antisemitism is growing across Europe and questioned how many more deaths ought to be suffered in order for this issue to be addressed appropriately. “This phenomenon must be considered within its own right and without being bracketed under several other phobias and other types of discrimination,” the chairman said.
 
Director Paul Nemitz’s intervention confirmed that anti-Semitism is one of their top priorities and affirmed it is high time that EU mechanisms are adequately enforced and cultural/education programmes put in place so that Jews know that they do not stand alone in this fight.
 
The Chairman closed the meeting and called for urgent action points in terms of the EU definition on Antisemitism, effective measures to combat hate speech online and finally, the urgent need to address this phenomenon in a European Parliament hearing within its own
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Statement following the terror attack in Copenhagen

The European Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism views with increasing concern the latest wave of antisemitic attacks which have targeted Jews in Europe in recent weeks, most particularly the murders of Jews in Paris and Copenhagen.

The Working Group strongly condemns such barbaric atrocities and calls on the European Commission to take all measures necessary for the protection of Jewish communities in coordination with governments of member states.

“It is unacceptable that Jewish citizens in member states of the European Union should have to live in a state of perpetual fear and insecurity,” chairman López Aguilar said.

“The protection of Jewish communities and their continued presence on the European continent is a sine qua non of the values upon which the European Union was founded,” he added.

These barbaric acts have occurred in the heart of Europe and we, as Members of Parliaments elected by the people, must take our responsibilities entrusted upon us to protect our values and our citizens very seriously. We will not accept extremism, antisemitism and violence in our countries.

We call on the Commission to examine proposals to tackle the radicalisation of young people in many of our major cities and to pro-actively educate towards the core principles of tolerance, freedom of expression and democracy.

We also call upon all our colleagues in national Parliaments to initiate serious inquiries into the state of antisemitism in their countries and the effectiveness of the measures to  respond to the challenges at hand.

 Juan Fernando López Aguilar

Chairman of the EP Working Group on Antisemitism

Incidents Reports

EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism

EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism in English 

EUMC Arbeitsdefinition Antisemitismus Deutsch 

More languages to follow

London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism

London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism in English 

More languages to follow