UK

Muslim Women Suffer Abuse For Wearing Hijab, Study Finds

20/11/2013 06:57 GMT | Updated 20/11/2013 10:59 GMT

Muslim women are more likely to be targets for Islamophobia than men, with 80% targeted for wearing the hijab, a new study has found

The University of Birmingham, led by Government advisor Dr Chris Allen, interviewed 20 British Muslim female victims of anti-Muslim hatred for the study, aiming to study the patterns of racism. Around 58% of those experiencing Islamophobia are women, the report said.

They found that in 80% of cases, the women was wearing an item identifying them as Muslim, a headscarf, niqab or full-face veil.

hijab uk

A Muslim woman and girl sit in the shade in Burgess Park during an Eid celebration fun fair

In one incident, a pregnant woman was run over. In the majority of cases abuse was low-level, verbal, in public places. with insults including “fucking Muslim”, “terrorist”, “Mrs Usama bin Laden”, “Muslim monkey”, “ninja”, “go and eat some pork”.

One said she felt “hated” for being Muslim. “You start to question your identity: am I a British Muslim or a Bangladeshi Muslim?” another said.

CASE STUDY

Rachel, White British, 28-years-old

Pregnant at the time, Rachel went to the bank on the day of the incident but began to feel dizzy and near to collapse. Her husband came to collect her in his car but when they returned to the house, a man was parked across their drive. Getting out of the car, she says she went up to the driver and asked him to move so that they could get onto their drive.

Refusing to move, the other driver became agressive, she said, shouting "get this thing away from me."

That 'thing' was Rachel. Becoming increasingly agitated, the driver threatened her, saying: "I'm going to pop you, Muslim!|

Hearing this and seeing how aggressive the man had become, Rachel's husband got out of the car and ran over to her. At this point, the driver got out of his car and started to punch her husband. With him lying on the ground the perpetrator got back in his car, and drove at her, running her over. Rachel could not move quickly enough out of the way, being heavily pregnant.

"It doesn't matter how white you are," Rachel said. "He called me a fucking Paki bastard."

Several of the women interviewed said they had considered not wearing the hijab or niqab after experiencing abuse.

Report author Dr Chris Allen, of the University of Birmingham and a government advisor on Islamophobia, said: “The purpose of this report is twofold. First, to speak to those in the public and media spaces about anti-Muslim hate and the ongoing victimisation of Muslim women: to give voice to those at times silent and overlooked stories.

"Second, to speak to those in the political and policy spaces about the very real consequences of failing to tackle and take serious the threat posed by anti-Muslim hate: to recognise the detrimental consequential impact such might have on policies aimed at ensuring cohesive, safe and prosperous communities amongst others.”

Director of Faith Matters and the Tell MAMA project, Fiyaz Mughal said that "for far too long, people talk about the number of victims, the statistics of victims and the kinds of cases. They simply miss out on the core facts; that there are people, emotions and familial and psychological impacts to hate incidents and crimes.

"It is so easy to fall into the ‘numbers’ of cases and this report reframes the victim perspectives from Muslim women who have suffered such toxic hate.”

The youngest interviewee was in her teens, the oldest was over 50 and their ethnicities reflected the diversity of Britain’s Muslim communities; most wore hijab, some the niqab; and one did not “look” Muslim, researchers told HuffPost UK. All had suffered ‘offline’ abuse rather than ‘online’.