“Islamophobia gets all mixed up with chauvinism toward indigenous communities: anti-Turkish, anti-Bosniak, anti-Tatar elements,” Taskin Tankut Soykan told me in a meeting in Warsaw in August 2013 when he was working for the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights as the adviser on Combating Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims.
“There are also racist elements mixed in with this,” Soykan continued. “And it’s all somehow linked to historic conflicts. Muslims in the region have been accused of helping the Ottomans during the invasion of the Balkans. They were treated as traitors. In Greece, anti-Turkish chauvinism is mixed with Islamophobia in a way to show how the Greeks were right when they were saying that Islam was a threat to their country and finally the West is recognizing their position. In the meantime, they also spread racism and xenophobia against immigrant communities, with neo-Nazi organizations physically attacking Pakistanis and Middle Eastern people. In Eastern Europe anti-Roma sentiment is also mixed in because many Roma people have Islamic background especially in Southeastern Europe. They are discriminated because they are Roma and because they are Muslims.”