“Europe’s Ethnic Minorities” Jessica Williams Instructor Amber Welch HIS 306 Twentieth-Century Europe March 1, 2011 Europe’s Ethnic Minorities Since the 1900s, European History has seen its lows and highs when it came to ethnic tolerance and prejudice. The European Union has been dealing with discrimination for a long period of time.This conflict stems from the principles of social, economic and political modernization, on the one hand, and promotion of ethnic diversity and ethno-cultural specify, on the other, was particularly perceptible in the Soviet model of multiculturalism, which might be defined as ethno-territorial federalism. (Hall, 1995). The Soviet project of social modernization was accompanied by the appearance, encouragement and establishment of reified cultural differences by the institutionalization of ethnicity through the implementation of the korenizatsiia (indigenization) projects in the 1920s. (Tishkov, 1997).The political and governmental constitutions in the national autonomies were created in a means that mirrored the ethnic composition of the province or country. As a rule, the representatives of supposed nationalities prevailed amongst state or regional officials. The innovative political classes in the national autonomies were produced by enlisting new affiliates of the Communist Party mainly from the supposed ethnic groups. (Tishkov, 1997). As Tishkov states, in the Soviet Union, “[titular] nationality had taken on a new importance as an indicator of membership in the relevant social and cultural community”.Most of Europe’s indigenous peoples, or ethnic groups known to have the earliest known historical connection to a particular region, have gone extinct or been absorbed by (or, perhaps, contributed to) the dominant cultures. Those that survive are largely confined to remote areas. Groups that have been identified as indigenous include the Sami of northern Scandinavia, the Basques of northern Spain and southern France, and a many of the western indigenous peoples of Russia.Groups in Russia include Finno-Ugric peoples such as the Komi and Mordvins of the western Ural Mountains, Samoyedic peoples such as the Nenets people of northern Russia. Europe is also where a multiplicity of cultures, nationalities and ethnic groups originated outside of Europe reside in, most of them are recently arrived immigrants in the 20th century and their country of origin are often a former colony of the British, French and Spanish empires. Amin, 2004). The ethnic self-identification of Soviet citizens was institutionalized through the organization of government and administration along ethno-territorial lines and by classifying the population by nationality (Beck, 2006). In the final days of the Soviet Union, the world witnessed ethno nationalism emerging from the legacy of Soviet ethno-federalism and the institutionalized personal ethnic identifications of Soviet citizens.In Beck’s words, “the Soviet institutions of territorial nationhood and personal nationality comprised a ready-made template for claims to sovereignty, when political space expanded under Gorbachev”. The Soviet nationalities policy and its institutional operational were used to a greater or lesser extent as a template in other socialist countries. The similarities are most evident in the cases of the former Yugoslavia and, to a lesser degree, in Czechoslovakia; both theses states were constituted as ethno-territorial federations and thus the principle of ethnic/national difference was ‘constitutionally enshrined”.In these countries, therefore, socialism might be said to have naturalized and reinforced ethnic differences although such differences had been present as a political issue in Central and South Eastern Europe since the growth of nationalism in the region in the nineteenth century. In (former) Yugoslavia, for example, the institutional of ethno-territorial federalism resulted in the redefinition of religious identities as ethnic and national. Thus the ethnic category ‘Muslim’ was created for Serb-Croat speaking Muslims in the federative republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and some other areas of Yugoslavia.After the disintegration of the Yugoslav state this ethnic category has been transformed into that of Bosnia); a clear reference to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina (which is itself a multinational federation) but is used generally only in relation to citizens of Bosnia and that reflected the ethnic composition of the region or territory. The ethnic self-identification of Soviet citizens was institutionalized through the organization of government and administration along ethno-territorial lines and by classifying the population by nationality.In the final days of the Soviet Union, the world witnessed ethno nationalism emerging from the legacy of Soviet ethno-federalism and the institutionalized personal ethnic identifications of Soviet citizens. (Appiah, 2005) In Brubaker’s words, “the Soviet institutions of territorial nationhood and personal nationality comprised a ready-made template for claims to sovereignty, when political space expanded under Gorbachev”. (Amin, 2004). The Soviet nationalities policy and its institutional operational was used to a greater or lesser extent as a template in other socialist countries.The similarities are most evident in the cases of the former Yugoslavia and, to a lesser degree, in Czechoslovakia; both theses states were constituted as ethno-territorial federations and thus the principle of ethnic/national difference was ‘constitutionally enshrined’. In these countries, therefore, socialism might be said to have naturalized and reinforced ethnic differences although such differences had been present as a political issue in Central and South Eastern Europe since the growth of nationalism in the region in the nineteenth century.In (former) Yugoslavia, for example, the institutionalization of ethno-territorial federalism resulted in the redefinition of religious identities as ethnic and national. Thus the ethnic category ‘Muslim’ was created for Serbo-Croat speaking Muslims in the federative republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and some other areas of Yugoslavia. After the disintegration of the Yugoslav state this ethnic category has been transformed into that of ‘Bosnia’; an ethnonyme that has clear reference to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but is used generally only in relation to citizens of Bosnia. Appiah, 2005). Europe’s vision of the division and relationship between ‘self’ and ‘other’. Indeed, we suggest that this multicultural vision not only positions certain Eastern and South Eastern European ‘others’ as displaying ‘dangerous’ primordial ethnic belonging but through its conscious promotion (not least as a key criterion for eligibility for membership of the European Union) may in fact engender such primordial ties as a politics of resistance. Tolerance is the appreciation of diversity and the ability to live and let others live.It is the ability to exercise a fair and objective attitude towards those whose opinions, practices, religion, nationality and so on differ from one’s own. William Ury once said, “tolerance is not just agreeing with one another or remaining indifferent in the face of injustice, but rather showing respect for the essential humanity in every person. ” Intolerance is the failure to appreciate and respect the practices, opinions and beliefs of another group.For instance, there is a high degree of intolerance between Israeli Jews and Palestinians who are at odds over issues of identity, security, self-determination, statehood, the right of return for refugees, the status of Jerusalem and many other issues. The result is continuing inter-group violence. (Appiah, 2005). At a post-9/11 conference on multiculturalism in the United States, participants asked, “How can we be tolerant of those who are intolerant of us? ” For many, accepting intolerance is neither tolerable nor likely.In Europe, tolerance seemed like an impossible exercise because being tolerant nevertheless remains the solution to reducing hostile tensions among groups and helping nations move past obstinate differences. Tolerance is fundamental to diverse groups relating to one another in a deferential and accepting approach. In cases when nations in Europe were extremely ingrained in vicious quarrels, being tolerant helped the affected groups endure the pain of the past and resolve their differences.In Rwanda, the Hutus and the Tutsis have tolerated a reconciliation process, which has helped them to work through their anger and resentment towards one another. In situations where conditions are economically depressed and politically charged, groups and individuals may find it hard to tolerate those that are different from them or have caused them harm. In such cases, discrimination, dehumanization, repression, and violence have occurred.This can be seen in the context of Kosovo, where Kosovar Alabanians, struggling with scarcity and joblessness, needed a scapegoat, and supported an aggressive Serbian attack against neighboring Bosnian Muslim and Croatian neighbors. Intolerance drive groups apart, creating a sense of permanent separation between them. For example, though the laws of apartheid in South Africa were abolished years ago, there still exists a noticeable level of personal separation between black and white South Africans, as evidenced in studies on the levels of perceived social distance between the two groups.This continued racial division perpetuates the problems of inter-group resentment and hostility. (Appiah, 2005). Serbian communities believed that the western media portrayed a negative image of the Serbian people during the NATO bombing in Kosovo and Serbia. This de-humanization may have contributed to the West’s willingness to bomb Serbia. To encourage tolerance, parties to a conflict and third parties must remind themselves and others that tolerating tolerance is preferable to tolerating intolerance. (Appiah, 2005).Conflict transformation NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and other actors in the field of peace building can offer mechanisms such as trainings to help parties to a conflict communicate with one another. For instance, several organizations have launched a series of projects in Macedonia that aim to reduce tensions between the country’s Albanian, Romania and Macedonian populations, including activities that promote democracy, ethnic tolerance, and respect for human rights. International organizations need to find ways to enshrine the principles of tolerance in policy.For instance, the United Nations has already created The Declaration of Moral Principles on Tolerance, adopted and signed in Paris by UNESCO’s 185 member states on Nov. 16, 1995, which qualifies tolerance as a moral, political, and legal requirement for individuals, groups, and states. Governments also should aim to institutionalize policies of tolerance. (Gitelman, 1992). Although discrimination in general has decreased on the European continent in the past years, discrimination based on ethnic origin it is still perceived as widespread, with Roma in particular facing high levels of prejudice, according to a new Euro barometer.Out of the six categories investigated (disability, age, gender, ethnic origin, religion and sexual orientation), discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin is perceived as the most widespread among Europeans and is considered to be an even bigger problem than it was five years ago. While discrimination based on age, disability, religion and gender is seen to have gone down, almost half of those surveyed (48%) say ethnic discrimination is getting worse. This is particularly the case in the Netherlands, where 71% of those surveyed said the situation had deteriorated.Now nearly four out of five people say ethnic discrimination is widespread and more than one in five has actually witnessed it on the ground. The situation is also perceived to have worsened in Denmark (69%), Hungary (61%), Italy (58%) and Belgium (56%), while citizens of Poland (17%), Lithuania (20%), Cyprus (23%) and Latvia (25%) were more optimistic regarding the situation in their country than they were five years ago. (Gitelman, 1992). Despite the usual Islamically-correct gloss of denial in reportage, a revolting pattern of bigoted violence is once again clearly on display in Western Europe.The status of Muslims in Europe is uncertain, for they are characterize as a group that is viewed as alien, unappreciated, or intimidating throughout the region. Racist tendencies fueled by paranoia regarding Islamic extremism have rendered Europe hostile, unresponsive to, and in violation of the human rights of Muslims. Certainly, the problem is the historical baggage carried by Europe with reverence to the Middle East, dating back to the Crusades and the Inquisition. At that time, Muslims were uniformly stereotyped as infidels and violent barbarians.Unfortunately, time has not significantly altered these misperceptions. The human rights violations suffered by Muslims in Europe range from police brutality and right-wing extremist attacks that often result in murder to confinement to the role of second-class citizen. When expedient, the card of fears of Islamic fundamentalism is used to justify persecution and discrimination as Europe and her allies do not question such a characterization. Indeed, since Muslims themselves are erroneously portrayed has intolerant and uncivilized, they do not deserve the rights of a free people.While other religious groups are measured by the mainstream and not the extremists, Muslims are defined by the most extreme elements in their midst. The hatred of Muslims throughout Europe is well summarized in an article highlighting the findings of the Runnymede Commission in the United Kingdom which examined the “growing phenomenon of Islam phobia-dread or hatred of Muslims-…” While focusing on Great Britain, the findings can be applied anywhere anti-Muslim prejudice is expressed.The key features of Islam phobia include “the portrayal of Muslim cultures as monolithic, intolerant of pluralism and dispute, patriarchal and misogynistic, fundamentalist and potentially threatening to other cultures. A further and particularly disturbing feature of Islam phobia is its apparent acceptability as…’the expression of anti Muslim ideas and sentiments is increasingly respectable. ’” The acceptability and tolerance for anti-Muslim prejudice and hatred is allowing gross human rights violations to occur unchecked.Other groups who have been similarly suppressed in the past accept that Islam is largely a negative force and therefore condone, through their own silence, these atrocities. (Gitelman, 1992). Clearly, the most significant tragedy in Europe since the Holocaust was the war in the former Yugoslavia where Bosnian Muslims were the victims of a widespread, government sponsored campaign of ethnic cleansing by Serbian armed forces and civilians.Neighboring European nations as well as the US justified their inaction and lack of involvement by claiming that the conflict was motivated along ethnic lines: yet Serbian leaders such as Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic used anti-Islamic rhetoric to fan the flames of hatred that allowed 200,000 Bosnian Muslims to be slaughtered, over 1 million expelled from their homes and communities, 20,000 women raped and countless more civilians, men, women and children to endure physical and psychological trauma.At the time when the international community chose not to act, many felt that if the victims had been Christian or Jewish then intervention would not have been delayed. Current focus on the persecution of Christians, receiving support in Congress for severe response to similar crimes lends credence to this view of a double standard for the protection of some religious minorities to the exclusion of others. This hypocrisy is further manifested by the lack of will on the part of the global community to take definitive action in bringing the indicted war criminals to justice. (Peterson, 2003).Through ancient, medieval and modern times the people of Europe have alternatively fought and co-operated with each other, to form or resist some of the world’s greatest known empires. It took the horrors of two world wars for Europeans to finally set aside their differences and to choose peacefully coexistence on a more permanent basis. (Peterson, 2003). As Yugoslavia and Kosovo show however this process is far from complete and prone to go into reverse in times of political or economic stress. The numerous ethnic groups that comprised Europe held historical animosities towards each other stretching back in some cases hundreds of years.Yet these animosities were put aside after World War Two and have managed to achieve internal peace. They were not however forgotten and when nationalist politicians needed to create a power base, they merely had to promote nationalist symbols and myths, and encourage the discussion and exaggeration of past atrocities. This created a deadly snowball affect that proved inevitable. (Peterson, 2003). The member states of the Council of Europe in 1995 signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.The broad aims of the Convention are to ensure that the signatory states respect the rights of national minorities, undertaking to combat discrimination, promote equality, preserve and develop the culture and identity of national minorities, guarantee certain freedoms in relation to access to the media, minority languages and education and encourage the participation of national minorities in public life. The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities defines a national minority implicitly to include minorities possessing a territorial identity and a distinct cultural heritage.By 2008, 39 member states have signed and ratified the Convention, with the notable exception of France. (Lentin, 2004). Discrimination and violence against racial and ethnic minorities is a documented problem in Europe. Europeans in most countries surveyed, with the exception of Austria and several former socialist countries, feel their communities are good places for racial and ethnic minorities to live. We can all try to judge the discrimination taking place in Europe but the same can be said about our own country. Europe has went through a lot and has managed to rise from their past.