Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief

Report on combating intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatisation, discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons, based on religion or belief.

Despite the Human Rights Council calling upon all States to “take effective measures to ensure that public functionaries, in the conduct of their public duties, do not discriminate against individuals on the basis of religion or belief” BVMN is deeply concerned that Islamophobia continues to underpin violent and illegal border enforcement in Greece and the Balkan region. At the time of submission of this evidence to the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, BVMN had recorded 1,212 pushback testimonies many of which reveal a pattern of verbal, physical and psychological religious abuse and discrimination at the hands of law enforcement.

Attacks on peoples’ bodies and faith, desecration of religious objects, and removal of religious dress, are all part of the profiling and abuse of Muslim transit-groups by state officials during pushbacks. Notably, people subject to such treatment also recounted their pushbacks as acts of torture, because of their demeaning nature and the use of physical violence.

This submission presents examples of testimonies which attest to the violent and cruel Islamophobia of both national police forces and Frontex. In particular focus are the states of:

            • Croatia
            • Greece
            • Slovenia
            • Hungary
            • Romania
            • Bulgaria
            • North Macedonia

In May 2021, BVMN wrote about Islamophobic violence during pushbacks, concluding that the level of Islamophobic violence during puhsbacks: 

“[…] sheds light on the way perpetrators frame their oppression of others. Racialised-Islamophobia can present as both a driving force for abuse, but also as a skewed psychological tool used to detach perpetrators from the heinous bodily violence they are active in. Such detachment is also seen in the dehumansiation of people-on-the-move by attacking officers, who regularly refer to transit groups as “animals” underscoring the direct racism they employ and also their percieved liscence to carry out torture.”

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