Women Tell Of Islamophobic Attacks As Hate Crime Numbers Leap
The Debrief: Islamophobia to be counted as its own separate hate crime…
Following high-profile attacks committed by Islamist extremists against British people, British Muslims are bearing the brunt of Islamophobic attacks. And with Muslim women perhaps being that much more visible due to any veils they wear, they’re further singled out for harassment, verbal and physical abuse.
In a study called Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks, done by Imran Awan of Birmingham City University and Dr Irene Zempi of Nottingham Trent University and reported in The Guardian, the impact of anti-Muslim hate crime was examined via in-depth interviews with victims.
Many were too afraid to come forward about their attacks, but that doesn’t mean anything that’s happened to them doesn’t deserve reporting. One woman, Hira, was doused in alcohol by louts on a train who chanted: ‘We are racist, we are racist and we love it’ – exactly the same thing the now-banned Chelsea supporters chanted at a black man as he tried to board their Metro carriage in Paris.
They also asked her if she ate bacon and if she had a bomb under her scarf: ‘They started chanting. I asked the person abusing me to stop but he wouldn’t. Then they dropped alcohol on my coat… People were watching but they ignored it. No one wanted to help.’
Sarah, who converted to Islam, found abuse increased after reports of ISIS rose in the media. She says: ‘When I became identifiably Muslim, I got nasty looks, threats and abuse, and that’s an everyday experience, especially because I'm a white British Muslim. When I suffer abuse in public, people walk off or stare… I was on my way to the shops and people shouted at me: ‘why don’t we chop your head off?’… Anti-Muslim hate is normal.’
As for Asma, a midwife, the attacks were so bad she quit her job: ‘I was on a maternity ward and one of my patients, during a night shift, was in labour. When she saw me with my hijab, she swore at me. She shouted: ‘I don’t want my baby to see your terrorist face. I don’t want my child to come to this world and see someone like you, a terrorist. Leave my country! How dare you come to my ward and show your ugly face.’ I then left my job as a midwife as I felt a lot of people hated me.’
In order to disguise their faith, many Muslim women reported removing their headscarves, and men said they were shaving off their beards.
Awan said: ‘This research reveals worrying levels of fear and intimidation experienced by many Muslims, compounded by a lack of support from the wider public when facing physical threats in the real world and an absence of tough action from social media platforms at the abuse people are receiving online.’
The government are taking on some of the study’s recommendations very seriously, giving Islamophobia its own category within hate crimes so more exact measurements of anti-Muslim crimes can be made. As for all hate crimes? They’ve risen by nearly a fifth in a year, according to the Home Office. With 80% of them being classed as race hate crimes, it's believed there are many more types of all hate crimes that go unreported.
Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson
Pictures: Adek Berry/AFP/Getty, Carl Court.
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