Muslim women face Islamophobia in Britain


The British Muslim women face physical assaults, harassment or intimidation because of their faith, according to the first results from the UK’s official helpline for victims of Islamophobia.
The attacks, collated by the helpline, Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), show that Muslim women were targeted in 58 percent of all incidents.
More than 630 incidents were logged during the first 12 months of the helpline, launched in February 2012 in an attempt to quantify the scale and nature of anti-Muslim violence in Britain. Some of the most egregious attacks recorded include a family being forced from their Nottinghamshire home, a five-year-old girl knocked over by a hit-and-run driver and a Somali lady who had dog faeces placed on her head by a white man while shopping in south London.
The majority of physical assaults committed in the street were on women wearing Islamic clothing, with most victims describing the nature of the attacks seemingly “random”.
High-profile female targets have included first UK’s women Muslim minister Sayeeda Warsi who was threatened online by an English Defence League (EDL) member and Jemima Khan, whose 14-year-old son received anti-Muslim comments on Twitter.
The majority offenders were subsequently found to have had links to recognised far-right groups such as the British National Party (BNP) or the English Defence League (EDL). So far, information provided to the helpline has led to the arrests of 21 far-right EDL supporters, with more than 40 incidents reported against EDL leader Tommy Robinson alone. Members of the BNP or EDL were involved in 54% of all incidents, of which three-quarters were committed by men. The average ages of perpetrators were between 21 and 30.
According to the Guardian, the results follow a report by the British think-tank Chatham House which identified a considerable Islamophobic sentiment in the UK, detecting a “wide reservoir of public sympathy for claims that Islam and the growth of settled, Muslim communities pose a fundamental threat to the native group and nation.” The majority of incidents received by the helpline related to what it described as “abusive behaviour” with 74% of recorded incidents occurring online. However, experts agree that even non-violent incidents have a profound adverse impact on peoples’ lives.
Fayaz Mughal, coordinator of Tell MAMA and director of non-profit group Faith Matters, told media that he was “shocked” by the amount of racial hatred they had detected in their first year of monitoring, particularly online.
Mughal, a former adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, added, “We are calling on police and politicians to do more to tackle this shameful wave of fear and prejudice. From the internet, to the workplace, the street and even houses of worship, too often Muslim women and men are becoming the target of vicious, sometimes violent, abuse.”
He is now calling on police forces to drastically improve their recording of Islamophobic crimes. At the moment just two forces, the Metropolitan police and City of London police, currently record anti-Muslim crimes separately. Mughal also wants the Home Office to take over monitoring of online hate and far-right groups from the Department for Communities and Local Government. Other areas that the Muslims believe could be improved include more prosecutions against online-based hatred.