Home / Current Affairs / Europe’s history of anti-semitism and the rise of Islamophobia

Europe’s history of anti-semitism and the rise of Islamophobia

Over the last few months a national anti-racism campaign has been underway led by Muslim organisations in the UK. The main purpose of the campaign was to promote peace and tolerance, by understanding common views about racism in modern British society, and how Muslims could assist in collectively tackling it.

The initiative came at the wake of the controversial German far-right PEGIDA movement’s decision to hold its first UK rally in Newcastle upon Tyne. Muslims across the country were mobilised to oppose PEGIDA’s message of hate with the message of love, and to counter their divisive rhetoric with the message of understanding.

Teams of activists conducted surveys and engaged in dialogue with people of all religious and political persuasions all across the country, to improve their understanding of a topic which continues to affect millions of people today. One of the focuses of the survey was to understand people’s experiences of racism, and to ascertain whether there is a general consensus that is still embedded within British society. The survey went further to understand if the public understood Islamophobia, and whether they perceived it to be a new form of racism in our society. The teams educated the public about the Islamic stance on racism, and raised awareness of Islamophobia, and the dangers it presents to community cohesion.

The scenes of people of all faiths and races getting involved and supporting a Muslim-led campaign showed that the Ummah is more than capable of taking lead in addressing societal problems by providing Islamic solutions. Speaking at the demonstration in Newcastle against PEGIDA, I turned our attention to the political and socioeconomic climate that led to the Holocaust. There are some striking comparisons between Europe’s historical reputation of anti-Semitism and the unprecedented rise of Islamophobia we are seeing today which are worth pondering upon.


Europe’s hatred towards the Jewish community is no distant memory. In fact, many of our grandparents may have been alive to witness the images, or recall hearing the accounts of the atrocities committed against the Jews by the Nazis during World War 2.

The Holocaust was not a spontaneous event, nor was the social attitude that facilitated this horrific genocide exclusive to Germany. Anti-Semitism was widespread across Europe, including Britain, at least a century before WW2. Prior to the Holocaust, there was a popular culture of repugnance against European Jews. They were demonised and perceived with suspicion because they were outwardly different. The men wore kippahs, their hair was curled on the side, and they had long beards. Jewish women also used to dress differently, covering their hair with a headscarf. The Jewish religion and culture was intrinsically different to that of secular Christian Europe. They ate kosher meat, observed the Sabbath, and followed their own personal and family legal code – sound familiar?

The question contemporary European leaders must ask themselves is whether their respective governments are steadily moving towards the same direction with their Muslim minorities, as their predecessors did with the Jews 200 years ago. Is Europe’s increasing intolerance towards Muslims comparable to the initial stage of antagonism towards Jews?

Undoubtedly, there are significant political and socioeconomic differences between the history of Europe’s Jewish and Muslim communities – namely, the former had no state but was granted one after the Holocaust, and the latter was part of a great civilisation and empire, which Europe effectively destroyed and colonised. Nevertheless, it makes no difference to the fact that Muslims have become the new Jews of Europe; and because the question of integration and assimilation is based upon ‘cultural differences’, it is accepted as politically correct.

Usually it is immigrants that are singled out as a socioeconomic threats to European countries, but it is Muslims who symbolise the “suspicious other”. The xenophobic propaganda of Europe’s far right, as well as the ideological rhetoric against normative Islām from conservative, liberal and left-wing parties, has contributed towards creating this environment.

Consequently, Muslims have become Europe’s scapegoats upon whom the continent’s anxieties are vented on. Right-wing politicians continuously exploit these anxieties to advance their neoconservative, nationalist and imperialistic agendas, while most liberals and left-wing parties have jumped on the anti-Muslim bandwagon for political mileage.

Suggesting that Muslims have replaced the Jews of Europe does not imply that a genocide is imminent. Though history does not repeat itself in such a way, it can have a tendency to mimic the past, with all the premature warning signs. As the wider non-Muslim community’s suspicion and distrust of Muslims worsen, it is a fact that the state of Europe’s largest religious minority is facing a real threat, and the possibility of a quasi-inquisition in the future would not be a far-fetched nightmare.

It is imperative that we remind ourselves of that disgraceful period in European history where animosity towards a particular religious minority nearly led to their extermination. Let us not be bystanders in allowing history to repeat itself by remaining silent to the hatred and bigotry against, not only the Muslim community, but any particular community.


About Dilly Hussain

Dilly Hussain is the deputy editor of British Muslim news site 5Pillars. He is also a political blogger for the Huffington Post and a features writer for Al Jazeera specialising on human rights. He regularly appears on Islam Channel, Russia Today, BBC Look East, BBC South and BBC radio stations discussing Middle East and North African politics, as well as domestic stories concerning British Muslims.


  1. What a repulsive article!!!

    “There is no muslim antisemitism”

    According to polls nearly 70% of all muslims in Europe believe jews are untrustworthy.
    40% believe that the jews control the global media
    30% see jews as enemies of islam.
    8 out of 10 violent hate crimes against jews in Germany were comited by muslims this year.
    The vicious Paris terror attacks.
    The vicious murder of jewish schoolchildren in Tolouse.

    And you have the nerve to claim that there is no muslim antisemitism! Even worse you dare whine that you are the “new jews”. You people are a disgrace!!! I can see how you should be stuffed into planes and deported back to the middle east!

  2. @moe
    selamun aleykum ue rahmetuLlahi

    I think you approach might be incorrect (not saying your words are necessarily incorrect but the approach):

    And when Our clear verses/arguments (ayat) are recited to them, those who do not expect the meeting with Us say, “Bring us a Qur’an other than this or change it.” Say, “It is not for me to change it on my own accord. I only follow what is revealed to me. Indeed I fear, if I should disobey my Lord, the punishment of a tremendous Day.” (10:15)

    And if it were not that the people would become one community, We would have made for those who rejected/negated the Most Merciful – for their houses – ceilings and stairways of silver upon which to mount. And for their houses – doors and couches [of silver] upon which to recline. And gold ornament. But all that is not but the enjoyment of worldly life. And the Hereafter with your Lord is for the God fearing (mut-tekin). (43:33-35)

    I think we shouldn’t invite to Islam because of the worldly wisdom (Himka), if it comes from Allah, anyone using his mind should submit to it, we use our logic to establish that it comes from Allah or not, but we start with the position that if it is from Him, we submit to it, regardless of whether we like it or not, see the logic behind it or not, or we see its benefits in this world or not. Someone having this position is a muslim even if he has not accepted Islam proper yet. The hikma/wisdom might be an additional proof that Islam proper comes from Allah, I’m not sure if we could use it even for this much as there will be something for which we might not know/see the hikma/wisdom behind it, but nonetheless even if, it can be used only after someone has that initial level of submission (Islam), i.e. he submits to Allah but doesn’t know whether this deen is from Him or not…

    And Allah knows best

    May Allah make you of the people of Jannah

    Selamun aleykum ue rahmetuLlahi

  3. Why you guys wasting time on this “Hector” he’s clearly a plonker, with no life, coz he hates Islam and Muslims but here he is using his time and energy on this site. It is like us going on a atheist site and debating, WHY……
    #BillyNoMates #Sad

    • The reason I come here is simple, Muslimah: muslims try to demand respect and acceptance for their “normative beliefs”, but they don’t actually make it plain what those beliefs are . If they won’t say what they actually believe and desire, someone else has to do the job for them, for the benefit of ignorant or unwary visitors. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds to do that.

      • Just what we needed, another fanatical ideologue with a messiah complex. Thanks for clearing up the conspiracies that billions of Muslims have colluded upon to hide their beliefs. The people/industries drip-feeding you your bite-sized sensationalised factoids about “the real Islam” are doing a good job…

        • Well, Ibrahim, do you want to establish a society where sharia law is established, where homosexual activities, fornication or adultery are crimes, where blasphemers and apostates are killed? If you do, then be honest about what you want, rather than spouting ======= about “ideological rhetoric against normative Islām ” as Mr Hussain does. If you don’t, you might be better engaged in arguing with your co-religionists who do want that kind of society.

          • No we want to be saved only… and think that that is achieved by associating none with the One that created us, gave us life when we were dead, and submitting to Him in full submission.
            If we do that, it is enough, if you have a problem with us, that’s where the problem lies, don’t get in what is allowed or not in a state in which the Law of the All-Mighty is established, for that Law is not the aim, the aim is submission and salvation. (Find a better way to that aim, and we follow it)

            • You do without the “state in which the Law of the All-Mighty is established”, then, and continue living in the state that is completely uninterested in that law without trying to improve it and the rest of us will do without submission and salvation.

  4. taalib-ul-hammuda

    John Smith,
    It is nice that you detest anti-Muslim rhetoric. And your brief explanation of the difficulties the jews went through is thought-provoking.
    But there are some questions that always linger in the minds on many, both Muslims and Non Muslims alike….why do many contemporary jews ‘do as was done against them’? Why do they oppress others like they were once oppressed themselves? Why do they commit atrocities so freely and claim innocence and aim to justify this when they of all people know what it feels like to be victimised??

    interested to hear your thoughts…..
    May Allah guide us to the truth.

  5. Dear Sir;

    There is a small difference between the Holocaust and what you are predicting to th ongoing Islamophobia in Europe.
    Jews had no country, while Muslims have number of countries all around the world.

  6. Why is islamaphobia lumped with holocaust?
    There are differences between the two. One arised on it’s own. .the other is done deliberately by the media n it’s control tools. One is forced upon you n if you disbelief ..good luck to you. The other is done by the brainwashers in high places, movies, schools, tv, paper. While one is whispered about the other you can be awarded n promoted.

  7. O Muslims, the grey suits will be coming to you to ask for your vote. The problem is that they will spend the next 5 years attending extremist zionist functions being wined, dined, groomed and brainwashed with their lowely agenda/ plot, then expecting others to play along with the perverseness they have been duped into. Western democracy is a fake.

  8. The diatribe/ mud slinging/ innuendo from the right wing extremists, zionist fanatics and immoral tabloid editors is characterised as being high on emotion and low on facts, for the simple reason they know they don’t have the arguments.

    ‘They had no argument against them other than that they believed in God the All-Mighty.’ Quran(85:8)

  9. We need more investigation by neutral experts as to what really took places in Hitler’s camps there are way too many discrepancies for us to accept the narrative promoted by parties who use the holocaust to further their interests.

  10. All my research has shown that it is pro Israel Jews who fund and promote Islamophobia.

    • Could you let the rest of us see your research?

      Mr Hussain confuses two different things – racial prejudice and dislike for religious and political views. Modern anti-Semitism is a racial prejudice, expressed in racial terms – whether jews are an actual race is irrelevant; anti-semites perceive jews as a race, regardless of their religious views or practises. Distaste for islam and muslims is based on actual Islamic beliefs. Muslims’ enthusiasm for torturing people to death for so-called “crimes” and their desire to bring the benefits of islam to oither people, whether they want it or not, is quite enough to persuade other people to dislike islam and distrust most muslims with no regard to their supposed race.

      • bigotry |ˈbɪgətri|
        noun [ mass noun ]
        intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself: the difficulties of combating prejudice and bigotry.

        If I were you, I wouldn’t be so proud of not explicitly being a racist whilst still being a bigot.

        • What makes you think I am intolerant “towards those who hold different opinions [or tastes] from oneself”? After all, I’m not the one who favours stoning them to death. I do not think they should be silenced; I merely claim the right to point out what their beliefs are. In fact, so far from wanting to silence them, I think muslims should be required to proclaim in full detail their “normative beliefs” about society and toleration whenever they speak on the subjects.
          People who believe they are “the best of mankind” and entitled to rule everyone else – for their own benefit, of course – are not in a good position to complain that people who disagree with them are “racist” or “bigoted”.

          • I could cite your clearly ignorant presumptions of what “The Muslims!!” think or do. But to be honest mate I’m exhausted of this paralysing fundamentalist colonial mindset which is unable to defy the years of indoctrination of seeing other cultures as inferior with their caricatured and obviously made up descriptions.

            • And where have I written of “The Muslims!!”, or even “The Muslims”?
              Do you claim that the “normative beliefs” of islam in the eyes of mainstream scholars do not include the aspiration to bring about a world-wide khilafah, where sharia law will rule and such “crimes” as blasphemy, apostasy (further defined as identical to treason), homosexual activity, adultery will be punished by the imposition of painful deaths? Precisely what have I said that can be called “caricatured” or “obviously made up”? As I said, I’m not the one who favours stoning people whose opinions and tastes I don’t share to death.

      • May salvation be for those that follow the guidance… Islam is just complete submission to the will of God. You can dislike muslims for either one of two: either they shouldn’t submit to the will of God, or what they claim to follow is not from God. I.e. even if we assume that what you say are Islamic beliefs would you oppose to them even if they came from God? (the example of Ibrahim that is mentioned in the Bible as well of being ordered to sacrifice his son and being ready to submit to that order, muslims claim to be of the People (Ummah) of Ibrahim). If the answer is no, i.e. there is no criticism if Islam is from God, and the answer is sincere just research for whether or not Islam is from God in a sincere manner and pray to God to guide you to the truth, you will be lead to it, i.e. to the truth, by God’s permission.
        If on the other hand you won’t accept Islam (again assuming what you dislike it for is there in Islam) even if it came from God, then fear God, the one that created you and to Whom we shall return.

        • If there is a god and if god – for example – ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son, then Abraham should have disobeyed. “I was simply obeying orders.” is not a valid excuse under human law, nor should it be under divine law. If god gave that command, so much the worse for god.

          • Feeling big is not befitting for humans… May we both be protected from it. If there is God, he is the One that gave my son his life, He is the One that can take it back or even worse… And if there is God, He knows better, it is not befitting of me to think but good and hope good from my Lord, everything I have is His, He gave it and He takes it back whenever He wishes, yet He promised a great reward to those that don’t want to be arrogant on the land and try to cleanse their own selves, I believe in that promise (InshaAllah – by His permission)…

            • It sounds like god is like Groucho Marx: “So who are you going to believe: me or your own eyes?”

              • Or to put it more precisely, the point of the test is to see if human beings follow those things which are known decisively (even if not directly visible); or do they get distracted by the glitter of the conjectural ‘what-ifs’ or their own personal ephemeral fancies.

                That’s why those who go against this simple logic are scolded again and again in the Qur’an: “will they not use their reason?” “Will they not reflect?” “What is wrong with you, how do you think?”

                • Just what are “those things which are known decisively (even if not directly visible”? The very fact that most people do not follow them and that those that do follow them follow them because they have been told in a book allegedly dictated by god that they must follow them unquestioningly is very strong evidence that it is not a matter of simple logic. People are told to think and told what they must think and if they do not think in the way prescribed they are told “Allah knows best” and they should take his word for it – which means they shouldn’t and needn’t have thought at all.

                  • I hate being the one to break this to people, but human beings are far from rational creatures. That’s not to say that we are incapable of reason (there are something like an estimated 2billion Muslims on earth at the moment). Deanna Kuhn is a popular cognitive psychologist who carries out research on human reasoning, a good starting point if you’re sincerely interested in this subject.

                    As for the rest of your comment, the only way I can make sense of it is to suppose that you are mixing up two distinct things: (i) objective, rational truths; and (ii) subjective experiences/fancies that are coloured by various factors, like culture, upbringing, etc. Note: fundamentalist atheists/christians readily conflate these two, frequently attacking ‘inferior’ cultures for *value* statements rather than facts.

                    Once you recognise this, and you resist the urges/desires to criticise ‘the other’ or ‘foreign’ paradigms then you will come to at least appreciate Islam as a superior way of life even just from a material perspective, holistically. But then, it’s statistically unlikely I’m afraid.

                    • You confuse reasoning and reason. Deanna Kuhn may be an expert on human reasoning. David Hume, John stuart Mill and Karl Popper are among the ones tolook at for writings about reason. the fact that muslims assert that what is in the Koran are “objective, rational truths” isn’t evidence that it is. The fact that they only assert these things are “objective rational truths” because they are in the Koran is evidence that they are “subjective experiences/fancies that are coloured by various factors, like culture, upbringing, etc.” If the Koran were entirely reasonable, there would have been no need to reveal it. Humans would eventually have inferred its truth.
                      What is your actual evidence that islam is “a superior way of life even just from a material perspective”?

                    • Can’t say I didn’t try, I didn’t have my hopes up though.

                      Read this:

              • Even if it were as you say (and it is not*), it would be believe your own eyes or the One that gave them to you…
                Be worried of arrogance, for the Hellfire is prepared for the arrogant (may Allah protect us from being among the arrogant)

                (*for no one can protect himself from harm if God had willed it to happen)

                • Well, ” if God had willed it to happen”, god will will it – or not will it – to not happen and we can happily leave it to him to happen as he wills; unless he wills that we don’t, of course.

    • Farah, I detest anti- Muslim rhetoric . You are clearly a vile anti- Semite by hinting that the murder of millions was untrue and some kind of conspiracy. Jews are not interested in promoting anti – Muslim rhetoric. They want to be left alone to practice their religion. They are scared of Islam because there seems to be deep vein of anti – Jewish feeling that pervades most (but not all) of Muslim thinking ( and is clearly evident on this website). There is overwhelming documented, written evidence about the death camps. The Germans were very orderly and methodical in their recordings of the murders. There is also overwhelming photographic evidence. There are also first hand accounts of survivors (although you would probably consider this biased). The allies (who were not Jewish) who liberated the death camps also recorded what they saw. Don’t use the most awful atrocity to implicate Jews in some kind of conspiracy. It is untrue and unfair.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Send this to a friend