Leaders of Belgium’s Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities have joined forces to condemn the rise of hate crimes both in the country and elsewhere in the world.

The informal group, which includes the European Jewish Community Centre, the Executives of the Muslims of Belgium, and the Chapel for Europe – have joined forces ahead of the 23-26 May elections to the European Parliament as some fear that there will be a surge in support for populist and nationalist parties who usually target religious minorities.

“We, the people of all creeds, are deeply concerned at the rise of hate crimes in our society. Recent elections across the democratic world and the polls ahead of the upcoming national and European elections are showing that populism, nationalism, and radicalism are on the rise on both ends of the political spectrum…This reflects a growing rejection of the idea of an open, tolerant, and inclusive society – one which we cherish and value deeply,” the group said in a statement, before adding, “We reject this rejection. It is our duty to raise awareness to the danger of extremism. It is our duty to say loud and clear that we Jews, Christians, and Muslims stand together as guarantors of each other’s beliefs. We stand together in our commitment to diversity. We stand together to march against hate.”

The attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand has intensified concern over a tech-savvy and global brand of neo-Nazi terrorism. A recent UN report said Belgium must tackle the root causes of present-day racism faced by people of African descent.

The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent carried out a fact-finding visit to Belgium. Michal Balcerzak, the chair of the working group, said Belgium needs to adopt a far more comprehensive national action plan against racism.

A recent Eurobarometer poll said that perceptions among Europeans on Antisemitism are “very divided.” While most Europeans consider antisemitism to be a problem in their country, 4 in 10 actually do not consider it to be an issue on the national level.

In the UK, Islamist-inspired terrorism remains the single biggest threat to national security. According to the British Home Office’s statistics released last year, only four out of 18 attacks stopped by the police and security services between March 2017 and December 2018 were designated as far-right plots.

 This content is part of the ‘Religious Freedom’ section supported by the Faith and Freedom Summit Coalition.