Islamophobia: hate crimes rise in London
A RECENT REPORT taken from data collected by the Met Police shows that hate crime towards Muslims is on the rise across the capital.
The borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has seen a 100% rise in such incidents over the past 12 months with Muslim women finding themselves disproportionately targeted. City University has spoken to local people to gage whether they have witnessed this rise in Islamophobia, and why they think that women are the ones that are suffering the most.
A. A. Noorudeen, 36, is the Imam of the Masjid Daar Us Sunnah, a Salafist mosque in Shepherd’s Bush Market. According to him, there is no surprise in these findings. “The press has a lot to do with it”, he said. “A huge amount of negative stuff about Islam is being published every day. It creates a climate of hate against Muslims. It always depends on what is in the news. After the terrorist attacks there has been a lot of aggression”.
In January, after the assault at the Charlie Hebdo offices in France, his mosque published a pamphlet to outpace extremism, “A Salafi response to the terrorist attacks in Paris”. Noorudeen and his fellow worshipers follow the Salaf us-salih doctrine, a conservative strand of Islam.
“The wife of one of my brothers got spat on”, he said. “That happens. Women get hateful looks, weird looks. Sometimes they get pushed. But not here in this neighborhood — here there are a lot of Muslims — mostly outside, on trains, buses”.
“Women are an easy target”, he said. “But they make jokes at me too. That I’m gonna blow them up or other things. It’s not as bad as you think, though. Sometimes you can’t blame them. Some of them they just hate us, it’s true. But the majority are just fed by the media”.
Hijab shop in the market
Selma Y., 48, is from Sudan. She has been working in the market for 13 years. Six months ago she was assaulted in a chicken shop on Uxbridge road. She was with another woman, both were wearing the hijab. “It’s all about the scarf”, she said. “But I don’t care, I’m proud of it”. The assaulters, four young white men, probably teenagers, threw chips and cans at them, yelling “go back to your bloody country”. She reported the crime to the police.
Minors are the worst, she said: “Once they are 18 they know they will go to prison but when they are still kids they can behave badly because they will not be punished properly. There is a lot of trouble now, before it was very peaceful. We liked it here. We liked it very much”.
Her children are British, the eldest studies law at university in London. “This is our country”, she said. “Most English people respect us but racism is everywhere”.
Uxbridge road, Shepherd’s Bush Market
Mohammed N., 40, is from Sudan, he works in a cafe and community centre near the mosque. He’s been in the UK for 15 years and in Shepherds Bush for 7. “We don’t get any trouble from British people. This is a good community. We work with the police to keep it safe. They come and talk with us at the centre. There are lots of Sudanese, Somalis and Eritreans coming to this centre. Sometimes they argue between themselves but that’s about it!”
Abdul N., 25, has grown up in the borough since coming from Somalia with his parents as a baby after civil war broke out. “It was easy growing up here because there are lots of Muslims, lots of people from my part of the world. It’s a lot easier for Muslims in Britain than France where the hijab is banned”.
Meda B., 36, is from Iraq. Her son, Mohammed, 13, gets beaten every time he goes out. Her husband has to take him to school in Neasden.
Sam L., 46, was born and raised next to Shepherds Bush Market. “There is no racism here”, he said. “I mean, look around. Everybody is a bloody muslim. But everyone gets on with everyone. I get taxis off the Arabs. They are all right, except when they try and take a bit extra, that’s a f***ing problem”.
“I’ve been living here 46 years, I’ve seen it all change. They’re knocking it down, so they can build expensive flats. No crimes here. That’s the only thing to care about,” he said, showing a can of super-strength cider, “f***ing drinking policy”.