European agency warns of anti-Semitism online
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) released on 8 November the first-ever survey on the experiences and perception of the Jewish community living in Europe today about hate speech, exclusion, discrimination and anti-Semitism.
On the eve of the anniversary of the anti-Jewish pogroms that took place 75 years ago, FRA finds that the EU still faces serious challenges in the form of on-going racism, discrimination and anti-Semitism.
The survey was conducted among 5,847 self-identified Jewish respondents living in the eight countries accounting for 90% of the estimated Jewish population in the European Union today – Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
In particular, the results show that 66% of the respondents consider anti-Semitism as a serious problem in the country where they live. Moreover, 38% fear displaying symbols that might identify them as Jewish.
Three out of four respondents (some 75 %) consider online anti-Semitism to be a problem in their country, while 73% feel that anti-Semitism online has got worse in the past five years. Many characterise it as “the most dominant feature of anti-Semitism in their life”.
In previous opinion on hate speech, FRA stressed that the internet is increasingly important as a communication tool for many Europeans, but the anonymity afforded by it may lead some users to publish offensive or ill-thought-out material online
The new survey reveals widespread fear of anti-Semitism on the internet and of victimisation; a worrying level of anti-Semitic discrimination, particularly in employment and education; concern about Holocaust denial and trivialisation, and hate crime.
However, it also hints that Jews in Europe are exposed to stereotypes such as Jewish responsibility for the economic crisis.
Another European body, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recently released a report, saying that the levels of hate speech on the Internet are ever increasing. According to the anti-racism watchdog of the Council of Europe, “as more and more platforms for commentary on websites become available, racist messages are being scattered throughout the Internet.”
Next week, FRA will hold its annual Fundamental Rights Conference which will focus on combating hate crime across the EU.