The following are portions taken from news and research articles, quoted mostly verbatim, concerning the events apparently influenced by Islamophobia. Care has been taken to provide an objective picture; for this reason those portions that show the effective response of the authorities involved or Muslims themselves disobeying the law are also included.
Sarah, who converted to Islam, said she received abuse following reports of incidents involving Isis in the media. She said: “When I became identifiably Muslim, I got nasty looks, threats and abuse, and that’s an everyday experience, especially because I am 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.”
… in one case, a female participant had an image of her redistributed on Twitter with the caption ‘You Burqa wearing slut’. In another case, the perpetrators found the address of the victim and threatened her with violence.
Fatima has also suffered online abuse on her Twitter account on numerous occasions. In one case, she was targeted online by someone who said ‘Go f***k yourself, go f***k a goat, you Islamic extremist piece of SHIT!’ For Fatima, the comments did not stop there, as she was targeted further by internet trolls on Twitter. She stated that ‘I was called a Muzlamic and I needed sense f…king into me.’
Ahmed had also received similar offensive comments via a group of people on Facebook who posted comments such as ‘filthy fukkas.’ ‘F…king dirty pakis, this why I want British to be about British.’
Mohammad talked about how his children have also been targeted by anti-Muslim abuse in schools. He noted that ‘Other pupils call them names like ‘Paki get lost’, swearing, ‘go back home’, ‘you don’t belong here’, ‘Muslim monkeys’, other pupils have pulled their headscarves.’
For example, Safa has been called ‘F…king Paki, F…king Slag, let’s blow her face off.’
She [Asma] added ‘My eldest son was studying aeronautical engineering in his second year. He went for a job and they told him ‘why do you want to study aeronautics? Is it because you want to blow up a plane?’ He has now left his studies. This is our home, we don’t want to leave this country but where do we belong?’
Veteran Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah, who was trolled on Twitter for his comments during former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri’s book launch two days ago, on Wednesday said he was targeted for being a Muslim. He said he was proud to be an Indian and he would not allow anybody to question his patriotism.
The actor said he was left “dejected” with the way he was misunderstood and misreported in the media about his comments on Pakistan. He said, “I was quite astounded that what I said was reported on news channel where everything I stated was interpreted as being anti-Indian and there was nothing of the sort that I had actually said.
“What A G Noorani and Dileep Padgaonkar said was not quoted at all and they raised far more pertinent points than I did. But what they said was ignored, only what I said was dwelt on. I don’t understand why I am being picked on.”
Note: For objectivity’s sake, it is pertinent to mention here that Naseeruddin Shah has apparently enjoyed decades of fame in India and he mentioned that “… I have never ever been aware of my (Muslim) identity until now”.
Footage taken on a bus in Brent, north London, this week shows an Islamophobic rant by one women against two other passengers. “Fucking Isis bitches,” she calls them. “Go back to your country where they’re bombing every day.” The original film of the tirade lasts, in total, five long minutes.
The bus driver tries to calm the woman down, but none of the passengers intervene, not even the Muslim ones, who remain passively seated.
The shock factor in this clip is not, though, the words – we’ve sadly heard those sentiments enough times before. It’s that this time the expletive-ridden tirade is coming from the lips of a black woman.
But I’d always liked to think that, given our history, and our knowledge of media bias – from the 1950s, when we were labelled pimps, to the 70s and 80s when we were only written about as muggers, rioters and looters – black people would have an implicit understanding that today, when the demonisation has largely moved from us to the Muslim population, we should be deeply sceptical of what we read.
A few years ago I did a content analysis of stories in the national press which found stories that centred on white people were three times more positive than negative. By contrast, stories featuring Asian people were three times more negative than positive (we didn’t break it down by religion, but the Asian negative stories were overwhelmingly focused on Muslim terror).
When a black woman can stand in a bus and tell someone, without irony, to “go back to their own country” it shows how deeply embedded the hatred of Muslims has become in our society.
The above mentioned woman was apparently later arrested.
The 36-year-old woman, who has not been named, was arrested on Friday at her home in Willesden Green, north-west London, on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence on the No 206 bus.
At one point the woman in the video can be heard swearing and telling the women to “go back to your own country”, and she appears to threaten to kick one of the Muslim women – who is pregnant – in the stomach.
“I will kick you in the stomach. I will pull that down and kick you, so you never have a kid again,” she says. “I will donkey kick you. It will be the first time I’ve ever resorted to violence in public.”
“I don’t want my baby to see your terrorist face”
Asma, a midwife, quit her job after being abused by her patients. She said: “I was on a maternity ward and one of my patients, during a nightshift, 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 hate me.”
On another occasion she [Asma] stated that ‘I once got the bus and the driver said to me ‘I hate your black face, I hate your accent, I hate your headscarf, you f…king terrorist.’
All of the people involved in the following event appear to be non-Muslims.
The principal of a Catholic primary school in the east of France received a torrent of abusive phone calls, letters and emails, all because one of her teachers gave a history lesson on Islam.
Christelle Lainet – headteacher of the Notre Dame primary school in Saint-Mihiel, a town in the north-east of France, was bombarded with threats after reports of the lesson were placed on an anti-Islam website. The site also published the school’s address and phone number, and Lainet’s email address.
“My mailbox has been inundated with 300 letters, and the school telephone hasn’t stopped ringing,” the headteacher told Europe 1 radio.
“I’ve been the target of some very violent and insulting mail,” said the principal, who said she felt “frightened.”
The hate-mail was in response to a lesson given last December when a teacher distributed hand-outs on the origins and history of Islam. One of the pages contained a ‘surah’ (verse) from the Islamic holy book the Koran, “by way of illustration”, regional daily La Républicain Lorrain reported.
Some parents were offended, however, and registered their unhappiness with Lainet. On January 9th, one child’s mother, who held “extremely racist views” had a heated exchange with the principal in the school yard.
Two days later, the same student’s father asked that his child be allowed to leave the history class without punishment, a request that Lainet agreed to.
On January 29th, however, the French website ‘Islamisme’ – which describes its goal as “to defend our freedom of expression and our values” – published a damning account of the history lesson, accusing the school of “poisoning” the children with “Muslim propaganda.”
A more specific claim made by the extremist site was that the student who was excused from the history class, was subsequently sent to the principal’s office to be punished.
The outraged headteacher, who apparently has the support of most parents at the school as well as the governors, responded this week by filing a complaint of defamation against the website.
For its part, the ‘Islamisme’ website responded to the French media outcry by stipulating “we called for a reaction, not intimidation,” and has denounced Lainet’s defamation complaint as “futile.”
Physical Hate Crimes
… In addition, some of the offline examples included incidents where a young girl was punched, kicked and had her headscarf pulled off. She was then threatened with someone wanting ‘to blow her face off’.
Sophie stated that ‘On my previous school placement, my hijab was sharply pulled by a child, this was witnessed by a teacher but was not challenged by them’.
Sophie who wears the hijab noted ‘a guy walked past, he spat at me and called me ‘Muzzi’. Also, I’ve been called dirty paki [I’m white] a group of guys walked past and shouted ‘speak English in our country’. I was looking at a map and did not say anything.’ This culminated in further physical violence, for example, she stated that ‘I was waiting for the bus and they pulled my hijab but no one stepped in.’
Safa added that the name calling did not stop there and included physical violence. She stated that ‘It didn’t stop them from slapping me against my face, pulling my headscarf and kicking me on the left side on my hips.’
Nabeela stated that ‘A man ran up to me in and spat in my face twice because I am Muslim. He accused me and my people in the Middle East of killing ‘them’ and killing ‘Christians.’ For Hira the man in the seat next to her poked her ribs and shoulder a couple of times whilst Asma had also suffered physical aggression and violence towards her. She stated that ‘When I was walking to the shops a man behind me pulled my hijab and strangled me but no one stood up for me and he said to me ‘Are you going to bomb Boots?’ On another occasion Asma stated that: ‘I was in a shop and a woman came behind me and removed my headscarf in this queue. She pulled it off!’
A Frenchman who ripped a Muslim woman’s veil off her face as she strolled in a fairground was on Wednesday given a five-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to compensate his victim.
The 30-year-old man, who admitted charges of aggravated assault, had justified the September 2012 attack at the time as an attempt to uphold a controversial law banning women from wearing niqabs, face-covering veils, in public.
That defence was thrown out by public prosecutors, who accused him of acting as a vigilante and carrying out an assault motivated by his victim’s religious faith.
The man, who was not publicly identified on the request of his lawyers, was also convicted of presenting a false identity to police.
Last September, Louis-Marie Suisse, a Muslim teenager in Marseille, was sent to prison for two months after being convicted of biting a policewoman in an altercation sparked by her arrest for wearing a full-face veil.
Human rights group Amnesty International has condemned the legislation as breaching French citizens’ right to freedom of expression.
Assaults on Pregnant Muslim Women
A young pregnant Muslim woman, who was allegedly attacked in the street for wearing a veil has lost her baby, her lawyer announced on Monday.
The prosecutor for Pointoise, Yves Jannier, also said the woman had been kicked in the hip before she managed to flee.
The alleged assault on the woman came just three weeks after another veiled Muslim woman in Argenteuil was targeted in a similar manner.
One interesting comment on this site by someone having the screen-name ‘Hypocrites’ was: “Could you imagine the outrage this would have caused if two Muslims beat a white French woman until she had a miscarriage?”
Note: A police source involved in the investigation also confirmed the miscarriage to AFP but did not confirm that the attack was the cause of her losing the baby.
French daily Le Parisien said police sources had some concerns over “inconsistencies” in her account.
And last week, Muslims in the neighbourhood clashed with police after officers attempted to arrest a woman in the street who was wearing the full Islamic veil in public.
According to Le Parisien, officers “were attacked. They were insulted and beaten, including punches”. Police sources said they were forced to use tear gas to disperse the angry crowd.
The 29-year-old woman, who was wearing a hijab, or Muslim headscarf, was hospitalized on Tuesday after being attacked on a street in Toulouse, southern France.
According to reports the heavily pregnant woman who is due to give birth in mid-April was approached by two men after she had dropped off her children at at school.
One of the men is understood to have hit her several times, thrown her to the ground, and one point pulled a knife out.
[The husband told] that one of the men grabbed his wife’s hair, pulled at her veil while yelling ‘none of that here’ [pas de ça chez nous].
It is understood the attacker’s friend stopped the attack, before the pair yelled racist abuse, reportedly threatened to kill the woman, and then fled the scene.
The woman is recovering, and her unborn baby is believed to be in good health.
The victim’s husband said that even though his wife was dressed in tracksuit pants and a jacket, it was the headscarf “that the man didn’t agree with”, adding that both he and his wife were “French and Muslim”.
In the two weeks following the [Charlie Hebdo] shootings there were 128 anti-Muslim incidents registered – which is almost the same number as in the whole of 2014.
Muslim Woman Showered with Alcohol
A Muslim woman was showered in alcohol in a violent Islamophobic attack on a train as other passengers silently watched on, researchers have revealed.
Hira, the woman involved in the train attack, said a group of men waved alcoholic drinks in her face, asking her if she wanted some. They continued to chant “we are racist, we are racist and we love it” and asked her if she ate bacon and 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,” she said.
Hira was on the train when a group of men began verbally and physically abusing her. In this case, the perpetrators kept waving alcoholic drinks and an unknown substance in her face and asking her if she wanted some, and also asking her if she ‘eats bacon’ or if she has ‘a bomb under her scarf’. This continued with a chant, ‘we are racist, we are racist and we love it.’ They also started shouting ‘Do it with the nun, it’s better than having none’ and continued to point at her and ridicule her. Hira stated that ‘They started chanting ‘Do it with the nun, its’ better than having none…I asked the person abusing me to stop but he wouldn’t. Then they dropped alcohol on my coat.’
Some 20 graves were found vandalized on Sunday morning in the Muslim part of a cemetery at Vitry-sur-Seine, 7.5km southeast of the French capital.
The graves were desecrated, marble headstones broken, and religious ornaments were strewn across the area, according to French media reports, though there appeared to have be no graffiti left at the scene.
[Sami] Debah [president of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France] was encouraged that, already, local community groups in Vitry-sur-Seine, both Muslim and non-Muslim, had organized a rally against such incidents, to take place on May 4th, but lamented the recent spate of anti-Muslim attacks in the Ile-de-France region, which surrounds Paris.
Just two weeks ago, The Local reported how vandals had left a pig’s head and sprayed swastikas on the site of a planned mosque near Paris.
In February, vandals once again daubed swastikas in front of a mosque, also in the Paris region.
The Frenchman, aged 69, was jailed on Wednesday after carrying out an attack on the Le Mans mosque in western France in the middle of the night of January 7th/8th, the same day that Islamist gunmen massacred 12 people at the offices of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The man threw four grenades at the mosque and fired several rounds at the building. No one was injured in the attack.
He told the court that he carried out the attack at a time when he “doubted” anyone was inside the building, admitting that he was under the influence of alcohol at the time.
The 69-year-old also said the act was “spur of the moment” and that he had stuck screws to the grenades to instill fear.
“I’m a Republican and an atheist, and what happened at Charlie Hebdo infuriated me,” he told the court. “It’s putting a barrier in front of the freedom of the press in our country.”
The 69-year-old was handed a prison sentence of three years, two of which will be suspended.
The National Observatory Against Islamophobia said these incidents, which include 33 acts against mosques and 95 threats had been reported to authorities since the January 7-9th shooting spree by three French jihadists that killed 17, compared to a total of 133 such incidents in 2014.
Anti-Islamic comments followed the news article.
Especially Targeting Muslim Women
Muslim women are more likely to be attacked in comparison to Muslim men, both in the virtual world and in the physical world.
Specifically, popular perceptions that veiled Muslim women are passive, oppressed and powerless increase their chance of assault, thereby marking them as an ‘easy’ target to attack.
Source: Zempi, I. and Chakraborti, N. (2014) Islamophobia, Victimisation and the Veil, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Ignorance by Bystanders
Research by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, which found that between 2010 and 2014 the number of people who reported seeing Islamophobia directed at someone else leapt from 50% to 82%.
Particularly shocking was the fact that in many cases, no-one who witnessed the abuse offered any form of help or comfort to victims.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of Tell MAMA, says this reluctance of passers-by to get involved was disturbing.
He tells The Huffington Post UK: “A lot of victims – this not just a one-off – are saying no one is helping them when they’re in trouble or when they are targeted. That’s a concern.
“Victims are saying ‘I wish somebody had called the police, I wish somebody had just asked me if I was okay.’
“It doesn’t mean getting involved in the fray, just giving that reassurance. But people were just walking past.
“It doubles the impact of alienation and isolation within the community. It’s a them and us situation.
“People think ‘oh it’s just on of those people getting attacked, I don’t want to get involved’.
“If they were in [the position of the victim], they would want somebody to at least make a phone call for them, or try to reassure them and whatever they would want for themselves in that situation, I would hope they would do it for an individual from the Muslim community who is suffering.
“I’m not talking about heroics here,” he adds, “but just a simple phone call to the police really reassures victims and gives all of us a sense of confidence in each other.”
Racism & Islamophobia
Safa argued ‘Anti-Muslim hate crime is tied to racism, and the two cannot be divorced from one another. Many people will say ‘I am not racist because Islam is not a race’ but if the majority of its followers in this country are from an ethnic background, by default they are attacking Muslims on the basis of their race. Actually, 9 out of 10 times, the abuse I receive is based on race. Although they use religion because I am identifiable as a Muslim woman, the words that come out of their mouth have to do with race, so the race and the religion are tied up together in people’s minds’.
Specifically, some participants felt that racism has evolved to anti-Muslim hate crime on the basis that while they were growing up in this country they were abused because of their race whereas in a post-9/11 era, they are abused for being Muslim. Ibrahim noted ‘I suffered racism as a child growing up in this country. This is something I had to learn to live with and get used to. I’ve been chased and beaten up as a child by white youth in Sheffield where I grew up. It became normal. Now it’s not racism, it’s Islamophobia. Racism is on the back burner and Islamophobia is at the forefront’. Sarah stated ‘My grandmother was Jewish, and during World War II people in Liverpool painted swastikas on her front door. This is not the first time that this has happened in this country. It is just that the group haters new focus is on Muslims. Before it was the Jews, people from Afro-Caribbean countries and the Irish. I am from an Irish background from Liverpool, apart from my grandmother who was Jewish. I used to get comments like ‘oh you are with the IRA’ but now it’s like ‘you are a terrorist’.
Muslims Reluctant to Report Hate Crimes
Muslim men are unlikely to report an incident of anti-Muslim abuse for fear of being viewed as ‘weak’.
Muslims Removing Identifying Symbols
Awan and Zempi revealed that Muslims were multiple and repeat victims of both online and offline forms of hate crime. Many Muslim women said they were now removing their headscarves and men were shaving their beards in an attempt to disguise their faith.
The visibility of people’s Muslim identity is key to triggering both online and offline anti-Muslim hate crime.
Sarah stated ‘I reverted to Islam three years ago when I was 40 years old, and within a week I started wearing the hijab and abaya. Prior to wearing the hijab and abaya, I’ve experienced no problems at all. Sophie pointed out ‘I have a public twitter account to promote my work and I get regular abuse on that. I have my picture on my twitter account so they know I am Muslim … I started wearing the hijab two years ago. I was not a Muslim before. I did not get any online or offline abuse at all before wearing the hijab.’ Similarly, Ibrahim argued ‘I am identifiable as a Muslim because I have the full beard, I wear a turban and I also wear the Islamic clothes. I am a very practising Muslim and I feel that is why I am targeted’. Bilal noted that ‘The anti-Muslim hate that I have experienced over many years is because my name gives away my Muslim identity’. Hamza emphasised that ‘The more Muslim you look, the more hostility you will get from people’.
Kelly told us that ‘I have been called a ‘Muslim bomber’ on numerous occasions. I have now started wearing a hat on top of my hijab because I can go about my business with the hat on.’
For example, some participants (for example, Sarah, Kelly, Sophie and Adam) who had converted to Islam explained that they kept their English name to avoid suffering anti-Muslim hostility whilst other participants who were born into Islam had adopted western names in order to hide their Muslim identity, especially online.
In this context, participants appear to manage impressions of their Muslim identity in public and online mainly through concealment with the aim to reduce the risk of future abuse. Perry and Alvi (2012) point out that this is not a voluntary choice, but the ‘safe’ choice.
Source: Perry, B. and Alvi, S. (2012) ‘‘We Are All Vulnerable’: The in Terrorism Effects of Hate Crimes’’ International Review of Victimology 18 (1): 57-71.
Anti-Muslim Hate a Normal Routine
A key finding throughout interviews was that participants were multiple and repeat victims of both online and offline forms of anti-Muslim hate crime. Rarely did participants describe anti-Muslim hate crime as ‘one-off’; rather there was always the sense, the fear, the expectation of another attack. From this perspective, anti-Muslim hate crime and its attendant forms of offline and/or online abuse, intimidation, violence and harassment were seen by the majority of participants as ‘normal’. The fact that anti-Muslim hostility was understood as a normative part of their lived experiences also meant that some participants had become ‘used to it’ and therefore ‘immune’ to this victimisation. Sarah argued ‘When I suffer abuse in public, people walk off or stare. Anti-Muslim hate is normal’. Similarly, Bilal stated ‘I have been called a ‘Muslim terrorist’ so many times but I have grown a thicker skin as a result’. Muhammad pointed out ‘I am not afraid anymore because I am so used to it. I have to live here so I need to adjust myself to the abuse. If I beat the crap out of them I will be in trouble. I take the abuse and keep my head down. I just want to carry on with my life’. Taking a similar view, Sophie said ‘In a way I anticipate it to happen so I am not scared. For example, when people are pointing at me from far, I expect them to say or do something when I’m close. It’s scary when people have spat at me or pulled my headscarf and I did not see that coming’. Irfan noted that ‘I have accepted it. Anti-Muslim hate is legitimised. The things you can say for the Muslim community and get away with, you can’t say for any other community.’
Resulting Depression & Emotional Stress
Victims of both online and offline anti-Muslim crime suffer from depression, emotional stress, anxiety and fear.
For example, one interviewee described how his work colleagues had locked the room where he was praying and on another occasion had his beard pulled. He told us that ‘I actually went in the car and cried.’ The overall experience of anti-Muslim hostility had a significant impact on him and his family and in his words it had left his daughter ‘suicidal.’
As one of the interviewees told us ‘I cried a lot. I’m not going to harm anyone but people hate me because I wear a headscarf! Why!’ Another participant added ‘I don’t feel confident.’ Unarguably, such feelings can lead to a sense of ‘othering’ and risk damaging community cohesion as victims feel alienated, isolated and that they ‘don’t belong’.
Aisha told us ‘I am scared, I fear for my life because at the end of the day they [perpetrators online] might come and find me because my twitter profile is public’.
Ibrahim expressed his fear for the safety of his wife who wears the niqab: ‘My wife is very vulnerable when she is on her own. I fear for her safety’.
Fatima argued ‘When I get abuse online it’s something powerful about the words they use and it does hurt as it’s full of hate. It has made me feel unsafe and always looking over my shoulder in case they find where I live’.
Reluctant to Leave Homes
… Moreover, some participants were reluctant to leave the house, especially on their own because of fear of being attacked. Nabeela stated ‘We stay in, we don’t go out because we are scared of what will happen. If I leave the house I am usually accompanied by my husband or my son’. Ibrahim argued ‘My wife wears the niqab and she had many incidents where people have made nasty remarks, so just to avoid conflict we don’t go out.’
Hate Strengthened Muslims’ Belief In Islam
Finally, a couple of participants pointed out that anti-Muslim hate experiences made their faith in Islam stronger. In this regard, Islam became a more salient and important marker of identity in response to experiences of online and/or offline anti-Muslim hate crime. Such experiences increased in-group solidarity and identification with their religious identity. Brown (2001) observes that as Muslim identities have been constructed as ‘other’ to western identities, an attempt to distort Muslim identities, or to suppress the symbols of these identities, often has the opposite effect; it strengthens these identities.34 For some participants, suffering anti-Muslim hate crimes made them more determined to continue to practise Islam. Bilal stated ‘Islamophobia has pushed me closer to practising Islam. I am more passionate now about my Muslim identity. I feel I don’t belong anywhere else’. Asma suggested ‘I love my hijab more when they attack me for it’. Sophie noted ‘For me Islam is a way of life. It is identity and belonging. I enjoy being part of Islam. It gives me a sense of family and belonging. I brush aside all the abuse.’
Source: Brown, M. D. (2001) ‘Multiple Meanings of the Hijab in Contemporary France’ in W. J. F. Keenan (ed.) Dressed to Impress: Looking the Part, Oxford: Berg.