Statement by Ambassador Tacan İldem, Permanent Representative of Turkey, on the Alarming Trend of Islamophobic Attacks in the OSCE Area, 1038th Meeting of the Permanent Council

Tacan İldem 05.02.2015
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson,

At the outset allow me to express how pleased I am to see that this very pressing issue has been brought to the attention of the Permanent Council today.

All my colleagues in this hall will no doubt recall our unequivocal condemnation of the recent heinous terrorist attacks in France. But they will also recall the many instances where I have emphasized, here at our Council, in Warsaw, in Tirana and elsewhere, how the rise of racism, xenophobia, intolerance and discrimination is among the foremost challenges facing our Organization today. Migrants are among the most victimized groups, and Muslims have been especially hard hit as Islamophobia continues to flourish in many participating States.

In this context, the portrayal of Muslims in public discourse, including in the media or by politicians, assumes great significance. Anti-migrant and anti-Muslim public discourse fuels prejudice and intolerance against Muslim migrants, thus contributing to their victimization, reinforcing their social exclusion and hindering their integration in European societies. This situation poses a threat not only to our security, but also to the common values that underpin our commitments and our Organization as a whole. Indeed, our yearly Human Dimension Implementation Meetings provide a venue not only for civil society to voice its grave concerns over the growing intensity of anti-Muslim sentiment, but also for appallingly Islamophobic statements by various NGOs which actually further highlight the rise of Islamophobia and the need to effectively combat it.

To provide just one example close to home: the Islamophobic movement PEGIDA held its first-ever demonstration in Austria right here in Vienna this Monday. We were pleased nevertheless to note that the counter-demonstration dwarfed PEGIDA’s rally with 10 times as many participants.

Mr. Chairperson,

While raising awareness of the very real threat posed by Islamophobia, we must also not neglect the fact that it is but one among many manifestations of a general rise of radical tendencies in Europe and around the world. In this context we welcomed yesterday’s informal brainstorming session in preparation for the Security Days, in which we exchanged views on how best to combat the growing challenge of violent extremism and radicalization that leads to terrorism. In that respect I would like to recognize our Secretary General and express our appreciation for his putting this very important matter on the agenda of the Security Days. We look forward to the upcoming, very timely Security Days discussion on this cross-dimensional topic which we believe will also contribute to enhancing our Organization’s efforts to promote tolerance and non-discrimination.

In conclusion, I would like to draw attention to the valuable Declaration on Enhancing Efforts to Combat Anti-Semitism that we adopted at the Basel Ministerial Council, in which the participating States are also encouraged “to elaborate Ministerial Council Declarations on enhancing efforts to combat intolerance and discrimination, including against Muslims, Christians and members of other religions”. In this vein, I wish to reiterate our expectation of achieving concrete deliverables this year in combating intolerance and discrimination against Muslims.

Thank you.