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Concerns raised about xenophobic violence

VIENNA, March 23 (UPI) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the global economic crisis may be prompting a surge in xenophobia, raising concerns about violence.

The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights released a joint statement with the Council of Europe's European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, calling on government leaders in Europe to take steps to counter a growing level of fear and distrust of minority populations, the OSCE reported.

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The statement suggests the global economic crisis is promoting an increasing amount of xenophobic intolerance and violent hate crimes.

"Our organizations are alarmed by reports indicating an upsurge in violent attacks targeting migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and minorities," the joint statement said.

"Europe's history demonstrates how economic depression can tragically lead to increasing social exclusion and persecution. We are concerned that in times of crisis, migrants, minorities and other vulnerable groups become scapegoats for populist politicians and the media."

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