One Muslim woman was showered in alcohol in a violent attack on a trail as others stood by. They chanted “We are racist, we are racist and we love it,” asked her if she ate bacon and had a bomb under her scarf. “People were watching,” Hira, the victim, said. “but they ignored it. No one wanted to help.”
In what’s thought to be the first study of its kind, two criminologists have explored the impact of anti-Muslim hate crime - directly through interviews with victims. And the results, as shown by the Guardian, were terrifying.
In the study, Imran Awan of Birmingham City University and Dr Irene Zempi of Nottingham Trent University, uncovered a widespread reluctance to report incidents of abuse. And, like in Hira’s experience, that victims often received little support from witnesses.
The accounts were plentiful. 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.” Sarah, who converted to Islam, said she received abuse following reports of incidents involving Isis in the media. She said: “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.”
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.”
It’s more worrying still that it seems that women are taking the brunt of Islamophobic attacks. Perhaps the burqa is too offensive to those bubbling over with hate. Or maybe women are just easy targets.