In the wake of a far-right attack in Hanau, Germany, Chancellor Merkel slammed the “poison” of racism. Speaking in Berlin, she said: “Racism is a poison. Hate is a poison and this poison exists in our society and is already to blame for many crimes.”
Across Europe, far-right populist parties have been gaining in popularity over recent years, while the number of reported hate crimes has been spiking in many European countries. What’s behind this rise in racism?
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Eva arguing that when Europeans have “decent-paying jobs” then “they aren’t racist”. Is that too simplistic? Or is there a link between economic inequality and levels of racism within society?
To get a response, we also put Eva’s comment to Ojeaku Nwabuzo, Senior Research Officer at the European Network Against Racism. What would she say?
For another perspective, we also put Eva’s comment to Katerina Vyzvaldova, Programme Officer at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) whose area of expertise includes racism, xenophobia, and hate crimes in Europe. What would she say?
Racism and xenophobia, and their increase or decrease, can be linked to many different factors. In Europe, this includes fear of the unknown, a feeling of lost national identity, global events, as well as political scapegoating, for example.
However, perpetrators of racist and xenophobic acts span the entire social and political spectrum, as our work showed. Racist acts and hate crimes should not be viewed simply as solely right wing extremism, or as being only triggered by economic crises and hardship. For example, violent incidents reported by migrant women were more often from someone they know in everyday life – such as a friend or neighbour.
Such incidents of inter-personal violence impacts on decision to report these to authorities – twice as many women as men are worried about potential intimidation or retaliation by the perpetrator if they report the incident. In addition, the majority of both men and women identify someone without an ethnic minority background as being the perpetrator…
Does inequality lead to racism? Or are there too many factors affecting racism within a society to make such a statement? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!