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!

IMAGE CREDITS: BigStock – (c) Ben Gingell

31 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    No. Do you even know what these words mean?

  2. avatar

    That’s an extremely patronising view…education and equality of opportunity are key to integration.
    Also, the photo shows someone who is perhaps a nationalist, but not to be equated with racism.

  3. avatar

    Every free society has inequality. It’s the level of inequality that matters.

  4. avatar

    The modern upsurge in racism is a consequence of constant and deliberate brainwashing. Media and social networks make it much easier. it has nothing to do with inequality.

  5. avatar

    Yes I am sure it does to a certain extent between races and also within the same race between rich and poor or even between elite polititions and normal tax payers.

  6. avatar

    Of course: racism is, in itself, inequality in treatment by society. And structural racism leads to perpetual inequality between “races”. It’s a vicious cycle that will never cease to exist while neoliberalism prevails.

  7. avatar

    And the other way around: racism leads to inequality.

  8. avatar
    catherine benning

    Does inequality lead to racism?

    First to answer a question it must be understood. This question on race is unclear and there can be no straight answer to it. As, what suits or satisfies some would be an anathema to another…… Inequality to and of what?

    So for clarity what is race. The biological meaning that is.,_definition_and_usage

    Then discuss the fact of how we came about this thing named race. What led to it? Is there such a thing?

    Lastly, inequality as opposed to preference. The preference all animals have according to their survival instincts and need for certain comforts or desirable environments, approval, respect, conveniences are totally subjective. Selectivity according to the environment we prefer and thrive in are varied in the extreme.

    Think about it. What is being suggested by this peculiar premise? Mankind is without variety? And that a choice for comfort within that auspices cannot be tolerated or even addressed as if it doesn’t or must not exist?

    For added thought on satisfaction through ‘equality’ assuming wealth is the leveller, take the British royal family, for example. Wealth in the extreme. Yet the middle aged married couple who recently decided they didn’t like the rules this wealth and fame offered them or, by birth, for their offspring. Both these people are of different race and social background. Wealth and fame could not persuade either of them it was a life worth living for that kind of comfort and notoriety. So, they quit a job many would see as extreme comfort and success the type they would die for.

    Therefore, what is equality or inequality? Any ideas? And therefore how do we give this ideal to every human being? When we do not even know what it is they see as a life of satisfaction.

  9. avatar

    The biggest racist are the governments telling people who and what like Markel, she is incredible dumb!

  10. avatar

    Personally i think inequality leads to hate, hate leads to discrimination while discrimination leads to racism.

  11. avatar

    No. Inequality leads to poverty. Poverty leads to less international prestige. But by inequality we understand the way wealth in a country is distributed in order to reach all social groups. We all must be equal by dignity, by opportunities and before the law but we cannot be equal by results.

  12. avatar

    You are thinking too eurocentrically and you are over- simplifying group-identity based discriminations and atrocities. Largest discriminations and crimes against other groups around the world have always, are still, and will further be committed among people of same roots, appearances, origin, or even language and religion. They hate each other to death for reasons not necessarily based on “race” differences. Weren’t all those people seaking refuge in the EU escaping from people similar to them?
    I think biggest problem people around the world have is the greed, corruotion or incompetence of their own leaders, or all of them at once. This si what more often destroys their chances and hopes to build a future in the land where they have family, friends and childhood memories, and where the are supposed to have more dignity in theory…
    Those destructive leaders come from their own people, too.

  13. avatar

    I feel that the amount and gender make a difference. In my tiny country, Malta I have seen my people go from welcoming and really trying to help to becoming extremely racist. The factors that are driving the racism are 1 the sheer quantity of them, and most of them young and male. 2 benefits and aid given to these migrants is greater than that given to a local, for example a migrant is given €500 a month which they top up by doing unregistered work. A local only gets about €300/350 a month for a period of 6 months and they are not permitted to do any odd jobs to increase their income. 3 some migrants are demanding / forcing their own culture/ beliefs on the whole community. Like for example when the local Imam demanded that all cattle be killed the halal way. A large percentage of the migrants do not intend to stay here and do not respect the country or people ( in some cases not without reason) the difference with those who wish to make this their new home and settle here is great, this last group respects the locals and also makes the effort to integrate. A wage or not would make no difference to the last group, they would still be welcome.

  14. avatar

    You are pushing this “racism” agenda all over Europe. Europeans are not racists. But you are forcing us to accept uncontrolled immigration, with obvious social consequences and concepts as tolerance have their limits

  15. avatar

    No, the existence of multiple cultures in one area leads to xenophobia, be it racism, ethnic or religious hatred.
    It is only natural that one group seeks to dominate, control and rule the territory which they inhabit and to drive out the group which they perceive as foreign or threatening.
    It has been so since the dawn of man and will remain so as long as humans exist, no amount of indoctrination or social conditioning can change that.

    • avatar

      or the new group seeks to establish dominence over the existing population and culture. Maybe they seek to gain power and influence which exceeds their numbers and quietly build population by having many children and concentrate in certain areas gradually bringing political parties to their bidding such as the UK Labour Party

    • avatar

      of course, such are the workings of history.
      Be it the indigenous group or the invading one, hatred will be both sided.
      In essence there is no difference between mass migration and war, in both examples one group seeks to overpower the other and take for themselves the spoils of war; money, work, land, women and what not.
      This is already happening to Western Europe where in some countries the indigenous population will be in a minority by 2050, woe is them when that happens.

  16. avatar

    Yes its got nothing to do with color

  17. avatar

    Yes. Inequality leads to poverty and lack of opportunities. Poverty leads to lack of education or work. Lack of education leads to ignorance and lack of work to bitterness. Lack of the latter two lead to fanaticism and hatred, making it easy for people to fall for populism and fundamentalism. So to end or limit racism you got to work on limiting poverty and inequality. However capitalism creates inequality, plus it needs a divided society and immigration to have a constant supply of poor people that are treated unequally for the system to exploit. A dangerous mix that will never go away unless we come up with a better capitalist system!

  18. avatar

    Racism is in many cases caused by a political elite being blind for the reality faced by the working class who are confronted with coloured crime. In this respect, poco politics make the situation even worse, glorifying multicultural ghettos and ignoring the cry for help.

  19. avatar

    Inequality is the genetics of human kind
    What matters is equality of chance
    But if some people are stupid or fon t want to work and have unqualified jobs then I don t mind and they must accept this situation. They can upgrade their skill m
    with professional training.
    Equality is communism and communism is dictature and economic failure
    Merit should be the engine of our society

  20. avatar

    I am sharing the view of Nwabuzo. Correlating inequality and racism is a kind of abuse. Inequality is a product of society. Some people want deny this fact and search for causes outside the society. The narrative about migrants (coming from outside) or any people ‘other than us’ taking away from us things that should belong to us is a way to shift the responsability on others. Racism touches all levels of a society because it has to do with bad emotions, it is a mind set. It indicates an already missing solidarity within a society.

  21. avatar

    It sounds a bit dumb, with all due respect.

  22. avatar

    No!!! Equality leads to racism!!!!

    • avatar

      Its so simple, we are different, racism is the fear of another race.

    • avatar

      lol, some who were trying to fight racism finally found out they the true racists lol

    • avatar

      you are so brugicious

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