On 20 October 2010, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) organised two seminars in London on the theme of ‘End the Isolation: building solidarity networks against racism and Islamophobia in Europe’. These seminars, to which participants had been invited from all over Europe, were organised as a response to the toxic tone of public and media debate about Muslims. The IRR had earlier noted with alarm the growing number of campaigns against mosques and minarets, and that physical attacks on Muslims had culminated in July 2009 in the grotesque murder in a German courtroom of Marwa El-Sherbini, a Muslim woman who wore the headscarf. Laws that discriminate, or even criminalise women who wear the veil, were also of concern to IRR which pointed out that laws such as these were not only creating new forms of religious discrimination but fuelling the culture of violence and hate, to which Muslim women in particular are vulnerable.
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