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Twenty-First Century Crusades?

              Prediction 1 - Continued tension and backlash against Muslims in Europe

France must act to prevent anti-Moslem backlash, says Euro MP

Brussels - After two weeks of violent urban unrest in France, Muslim communities in the country will face long-term retaliation, a Euro MP said Thursday, urging the French government to take action and condemn revenge attacks against Moslems.

French politicians had failed to give immediate assurance that they would support the country\'s unity, leaving citizens in a state of disarray and shock, British socialist MEP Claude Moraes said.

With no ethnic monitoring, France could not know the level of discrimination in the country, Moraes said, comparing the situation in France with Britain.

French police also had no guidelines for dealing with ethnic groups, the MEP pointed out.

Prompt and united condemnation of the July bombings in London prevented an anti-Muslim backlash, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), a Vienna-based agency of the European Union, said when presenting a new report in the European Parliament.

\'By publicly making clear that racism is unacceptable, political leadership can decisively reduce xenophobia,\' EUMC director Beate Winkler said.

The strong stand taken by the British government, police, communities and Moslem leaders as well as by all E.U. member states managed to counter immediate revenge attacks, the report said.

It also found that swift responses by politicians in Britain were supported by the police and the media, trying to distinguish between the action of the bombers and Islam as a whole.

Condemnation of the July bombings prevented isolated anti-Moslem incidents across the E.U. from growing into large-scale retaliation, the report added.

\'The united stand taken across Europe...has been an excellent example of cohesion and unity in action,\' Winkler told reporters.

The EUMC report notes that in several E.U. countries, the London attacks triggered new political initiatives and a broad public debate about how to strengthen community cohesion and speed up the integration of minorities.

These initiatives now have to develop into an E.U. anti- discrimination policy, Winkler said. Responsibility would rest as much on the Moslem community as on majority communities.

\'Dialogue between communities is crucial, and the Muslims should be more open to it,\' British conservative MEP Syed Kamall added.

\'We must move away from tolerance to respect for other cultures and religions,\' Winkler said, urging E.U. governments to step up efforts to integrate minorities into society.

The EUMC report calls for active involvement of Moslem communities in institutionalized procedures of policy-making.

Police services should provide support to victims of racist crimes and governments should monitor progress of social inclusion, it concluded.

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