The US State Department [official website] warned Thursday that the alienation of European Muslim communities through various laws and policies could fuel recruitment for terror groups. The Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 [text], an annual report the State Department is required to publish under federal law [22 USC § 2656f text], is meant to provide a full accounting of terrorist activities in certain countries for the previous year. It cites the significant Muslim populations of several European countries, comprising both recent immigrants and second- or third-generation who face ongoing problems integrating into European society, as providing "fertile recruitment ground" for extremists. The report states that al Qaeda [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] remains the largest threat to the US. The organization has continued to spread through connections with other like-minded groups in Yemen and Somalia [JURIST news archives], where an absence of law and order have provided these groups with room to operate. Terrorist organizations are also gaining significant assistance from state sponsors, the largest of which is Iran [JURIST news archive], which has provided significant funding and operational support to Hamas and Hezbollah [GlobalSecurity backgrounders]. The State Department also pointed to the rise in US citizens involved in both domestic and international terrorist acts as cause for concern.
In July, the Council of Europe's European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) [official website] reported that violence and rhetoric targeting Muslims has risen [JURIST report] in Europe during 2009, following the recent economic crisis. The ERCI specifically pointed to the recent trend in some parts of Europe toward banning the wearing of the burqa [JURIST news archive], noting that the legislation is targeted towards Muslims, and called on countries to encourage religious diversity and acceptance. In order to combat the rising incidents of racism, ERCI is urging the 29 Council of Europe members that have not yet ratified Protocol 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights [materials], which prohibits racial discrimination, to do so. They are also advising countries to enforce existing laws against racism and to enact new laws in order to "fill the legal gaps that still exist."