The City Council of Barcelona has presented its municipal plan to combat Islamophobia, a pioneering municipal government measure in the Spanish state which aims to guarantee social cohesion and protect human rights. The document has been discussed and agreed upon in a process involving eighty people, including human rights and discrimination experts, specialised municipal staff, social entities and organisations from the Muslim community. The plan, which sets out 28 measures and has a budget of over 100,000 euros, aims to support the most vulnerable victims: women. In the province of Barcelona, reported hate crimes rose by 19% in 2015, compared to 2014, and 40% compared to 2013.
Girls who are rejected by their social environment when they decide to wear a veil, difficulties in opening prayer centres, insults on public transport, bearded young men who can’t find university work placements and so on. These are the most common cases of discrimination and Islamophobia in Barcelona.
Generally it’s not an issue of physical aggression, although there are some cases, and so the main objectives of this plan revolve around prevention, awareness and backing for interculturality and social cohesion.
“It’s urgent to raise awareness on existing Islamophobia, as it’s a serious form of discrimination which violates basic human rights and makes us more fragile as a society. The best antidote for hate and intolerance is the recognition of the religious, political and cultural diversity in the world of Islam”, affirmed Jaume Asens, Deputy Mayor.
The Office for Non-Discrimination (OND) will become the main service run by City Council for citizens and organisations to document, receive information, training and advice on hate crimes and hate discourse. The municipal service will collate data in order to provide a better snapshot of the situation in the city, as well as activating mechanisms for officially reporting hate crime and hate speech and litigating in significant cases if necessary.
The Hate Crime and Hate Speech Observatory is also to be created and training organised for municipal workers in this area, including the City Police. Other measures include encouraging schools to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.