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Islamophobia makes British Muslims feel increasingly 'isolated' in their own country - Independent, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    Islamophobia makes British Muslims feel increasingly isolated in their own country By Maxine Frith, Social Affairs Correspondent 22 November 2004
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 23 12:28 PM
      Islamophobia makes British Muslims feel increasingly
      'isolated' in their own country
      By Maxine Frith, Social Affairs Correspondent
      22 November 2004

      http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/story.jsp?story=585399

      Muslims in Britain are suffering soaring levels of
      Islamophobia and discrimination based on their faith,
      rather than the colour of their skin, a report
      published today says.

      Experts warned that significant numbers of British
      Muslims, particularly young men, are being
      marginalised by the inequalities they suffer compared
      with white and other ethnic groups. Of British
      Muslims, 80 per cent said they had suffered
      Islamophobia.

      The study, published to launch Islam Awareness Week,
      calls on the Government to do more to tackle
      discrimination and engage the Muslim community in
      society.

      Sher Khan, a spokesman for the Muslim Association of
      Britain, said: "There is a real potential for Muslim
      people to become increasingly isolated within Britain,
      which goes completely against the idea of trying to
      create a more cohesive society. It is not going to be
      possible to achieve integration unless the concerns of
      British Muslims are addressed by the Government."

      But he added: "It has to be a two-way process. British
      Muslims have got to build bridges and be proactive in
      terms of integrating with the rest of society."

      The report, by the Open Society Institute, found that
      since the 11 September attacks 80 per cent of Muslims
      said they had been subjected to some form of
      Islamophobia.

      Two thirds of British Muslims felt they were perceived
      and treated differently from other groups, and 32 per
      cent said they had been discriminated against at
      British airports because of their religion.

      Between 2001 and 2003, the number of Asian people
      stopped and searched under the Terrorism Act rose by
      302 per cent, compared with 230 per cent for black
      people and 118 per cent for whites. The report warned:
      "The high number of stop-and-searches, and the gap
      between the number of searches and actual arrests,
      charges and convictions, is leading to a perception
      among British Muslims of being unfairly policed, and
      is fuelling a strong disaffection and sense of being
      under siege."

      One in three Muslims felt that the Government was
      doing too little to protect the rights of different
      faith groups in the UK.

      The report also found that as well as suffering overt
      verbal and physical attacks, British Muslims are among
      the most economically and socially disadvantaged
      groups in the country. They have the lowest employment
      rate of any faith group, at 38 per cent.

      The unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds runs at
      17.5 per cent for Muslims, compared with 7.9 per cent
      for Christians and 7.4 per cent for Hindus.

      One in three Muslims of working age has no
      qualification, the highest of any faith group. Four
      out of 10 Muslim children live in overcrowded
      accommodation, compared with 12 per cent of the
      population as a whole.

      Two-thirds of the Muslim population live in the 88
      most deprived districts of England, and as a faith
      group, they have the highest rates of illness.

      There are 1.6 million Muslims in the UK, 3 per cent of
      the population. The Muslim community is also one of
      the youngest; one-third of those who follow the
      religion are under the age of 16, compared with
      one-fifth of the population as a whole. The average
      age of Muslims is 28, 13 years younger than the
      national average.

      Years of social and economic disadvantage, coupled
      with the suspicion they have come under after the
      terror attacks in the US, has led to the increasing
      demonisation and isolation of young men, researchers
      say. The report concludes: "While policy is moving in
      the right direction, progress is still not enough to
      enable some of the real and rapid changes now
      required.

      "Muslim young men have emerged as the new 'folk
      devils' of popular and media imagination, being
      represented as the embodiment of fundamentalism.

      "To be a British Muslim is defined solely in terms of
      negativity, deprivation, disadvantage and alienation."

      It calls for better representation of Muslims in
      public life, such as the education and criminal
      justice systems, and more targeted policies aimed at
      narrowing the inequality gap between the Islamic
      community and other ethnic groups.

      The report also suggests offering Arabic as a modern
      language option in schools, and including Muslim
      civilisation in history lessons.

      For the majority of Muslims, the issue of their faith
      is more important than their ethnicity, the report
      says.

      The high commissioner of Pakistan urged British
      Muslims to do more to fit into society. Dr Maleeha
      Lodhi said better integration would help to "beat the
      extremists" - in terms of both racism towards Muslims
      and Islamic fundamentalism. "You can integrate without
      assimilating, so you are part of British society," she
      said.


      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      'They were glaring at me and then picked up some
      stones'

      By Maxine Frith

      Dr Sara Saigol, a hospital doctor, lives in Manchester
      with her husband, Khalid Anis, a dentist, and their
      three children.

      She was born in Britain and had never experienced
      Islamophobia until one terrifying afternoon last
      summer. As she walked along a main road in Manchester
      with her children, three men on a building site began
      shouting "Paki" at her.

      "They were glaring at me, and then started picking up
      stones and looking as if they were about to throw them
      at me," she said. "I had a double buggy and my
      daughter skipping behind me, so I couldn't go very
      fast.I was very intimidated and completely shocked.

      "The majority of British society is nothing like that
      but I couldn't believe that these men were doing this
      on a main road, and in a multicultural place like
      Manchester."

      She went on: "It is difficult to know ... whether it
      is racism based on the colour of my skin, or
      Islamophobia based on the fact I was wearing a hijab,
      but I think it was based on the way I was dressed.
      There has been a change in the way Muslims are
      perceived since 11 September 2001, and the way we are
      portrayed."

      Her husband agrees: "Our local mosque was vandalised
      recently and people I know have been abused in the
      street.

      "The discrimination can be very subtle. If there is a
      bomb attack, it is always described as Islamic
      terrorism, but when Amir Khan was boxing for Britain
      in the Olympics, he was described as being a Bolton
      lad; nothing was mentioned about him being a Muslim.

      "People ask me if it is possible to be British and a
      Muslim. Of course it is. I find the question
      ludicrous."
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Report: 'Islamophobia' growing in Britain

      http://washingtontimes.com/upi-breaking/20041122-092047-5746r.htm

      London, England, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Eighty percent of
      Muslims living in Britain claim to have been
      discriminated against based on their religion, a
      report published in The Independent said Monday.

      Published by the Open Society Institute to launch
      Islam Awareness Week, the report called on the
      government to do more to tackle discrimination and
      engage the Muslim community in society.

      The study said between 2001 and 2003, the number of
      Asian people stopped and searched under the Terrorism
      Act rose by 302 percent, compared with 230 percent for
      black people and 118 percent for whites.

      Two thirds of British Muslims felt they were perceived
      and treated differently from other groups, and 32
      percent said they had been discriminated against at
      British airports because of their religion.

      However, Sher Khan, a spokesman for the Muslim
      Association of Britain, told the newspaper Muslims
      bear some responsibility to address what the report
      dubbed "Islamophobia."

      "It has to be a two-way process. British Muslims have
      got to build bridges and be proactive in terms of
      integrating with the rest of society," Khan said.






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