European Union officials on Thursday launched the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights -- the 27-nation bloc's latest effort to stamp out intolerance as it struggles to absorb an unprecedented crush of immigrants.
Officials said the new agency would expand the work of the Vienna-based European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia to forge an EU-wide human rights culture that respects people of different genders, cultures and faiths.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the new agency reflected the EU's "deep belief in the central worth and dignity of each individual."
Underscoring how racism, anti-Semitism and crimes against foreigners remain entrenched in Europe, the monitoring center warned in December that Europe's Muslims routinely suffered acts ranging from physical attacks to discrimination in the job and housing markets.
"We must continue to attack these diseases," said Franco Frattini, the EU's justice and home affairs commissioner.
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