Comunicado EGAM (European Grassroots Antiracist Movement)

Press release

2013 European Testing* Campaign against racial discrimination : more than one third of Arab, Roma, Black,… individuals living in Europe cannot have access to housing because they are discriminated on a racial basis

Paris, June the 25th, 2013,

In May and June, the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement – EGAM has conducted a pan-European action to fight racial discrimination regarding access to housing : the European Testing campaign, which has offered a very violent picture of the state-of-the-art of racial discrimination in Europe today.

A Europe-wide action against racial discrimination

The Testing campaign has been conducted in 5 countries : Czech Republic, France, Italy, Slovenia and Serbia.
In Czech Republic, the action has been conducted in Ustí nad Labem, in France in Paris, in Italy in 15 cities, in Slovenia in Ljubljana and in Serbia in Belgrade.

The activists have tested individual owners and renting agencies : a person with a name of Arab or Black African origin asked to visit a place to rent, and so did a person with a name of the “ethnic majority”. Both individuals had the same level of income, the same age, the same sex, etc. The only difference between them was their ethnic backgrounds.
By convention, a test is said “positive” when discrimination is proved, that is to say when the “White” person is offered the opportunity to visit or rent, and when the other one is not.

A very high level of racial discrimination revealed

More than 100 tests (109) have been conducted, and in more than one third of the cases (33,96%), Mulsim, Roma, Black,… individuals were not offered the opportunity to visit or to rent while their White friends were.

The highest level of racial discrimination has been observed in Czech Republic, against Roma people (62,50%), then in France, against Arabs and Blacks (45%), in Italy, against Black, Arab, Roma, Asian and East European individuals (37,50%), in Slovenia, against Ex-Yugoslavian, Latin American and Black individuals (32,80%). In Serbia, no racial discrimination against Roma people has been observed, but this does not imply that thereX is no discrimination against them, which all grassroots organizations report on a daily basis. This means that racial discrimination takes places at another step of the renting process.

A very violent situation in Europe

This very violent situation regarding racial discrimination in Europe today does not come by chance, but it is the consequences of the increasing influence of racist, especially far right, parties and movements in Europe for years now, particularly in the countries whereX the mobilization took place.

The dominant discourse which presents immigration as a threat to the European economy and cultures is an ideological victory for the far right and paves the way for its electoral success as well as racist acts on the ground, including racist murders, and including of course racial discrimination.

This spirit of the “European civil war”, an internal version of the “clash of civilizations” allows many European individuals or companies to break the laws and to discriminate on a racial basis, preventing millions of individuals to fully enjoy their rights and freedom.

The European Commission must resume its support to grassroots antiracist actions

It is urgent to vigorously act. The European antiracist civil society is mobilized and intends to launch a European testing campaign every year (in 2011 and 2012, the campaign targeted entertainment places, in 15 countries, and in 2014, work should be issue). To do so, it needs support, especially funding, from the European Commission.

ThereXfore, it is highly important that the European Commission strongly resumes its support to the grassroots antiracist actions, after having erased it in 2013.
The fate of the fundamental values of Europe are at stake.

EGAM to launch a civil society-local authorities Alliance against discrimination

Local authorities, in particular municipalities, can act concretely. ThereX is no need of change in the national Laws nor in the European directives for that.
For example, following the first European Testing Night in 2011, the City of Warsaw has decided to change all the renting contracts it signs with companies in order to include an “equal treatment” clause, threatening to cancel the renting contract of a company in case it does not respect its antidiscrimination policy.

This simple but powerful example has been the starting point of the alliance between the antiracist civil society and local authorities which EGAM is about to launch in order to push for action at the local level and to promote an efficient cooperation against racial discrimination in Europe.

Contact person :
Benjamin Abtan, President of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement – EGAM
Cellphone : +33 7 60 83 20 80 / @ : benjamin_abtan@yahoo.fr

*The Testing is a scientific tool elaborated in US universities in the 60s, used as an activist and political tool by the Civil Rights Movement to fight segregation and racial discrimination. Some 20 years ago, European antiracist movements started to use. It is now recognized as legal evidence of racial discrimination in criminal courts in numerous European countries.