For the first time ever at Bristol SU, we’re recognising Islamophobia Awareness Month, although we’ll be having islamophobia awareness events and activities throughout the year. This month matters and here’s why.
Islamophobia is a term used to describe hatred and/or discrimination and prejudice towards Muslims and those who practice the religion of Islam. It is often inextricable from race as many Muslims are racialized as non-white and this further adds to the racism faced by many Muslims and people who are racially profiled as being Muslim.
So, reputable national newspapers are donning headlines called ‘“UK mosques fundraising for terror” and ‘’BBC puts Muslims before you”. The government's counter terrorism strategy and racist Prevent Act has meant that Muslim students have been disproportionately targeted by government and law enforcement as being susceptible to ‘radicalisation’. In the UK however, we’ve seen a substantial rise in hate crimes towards Muslim people, in fact we’ve seen a 326% increase in Islamophobic related crimes being reported from Tell MAMA - with a disproportionate number of hate crimes towards Muslim women who wear the hijab (headscarf) or niqaab (veil).
In London alone, there has been approximately 60% increase in hate crimes from 2015-2016, from media reports of women having their headscarves pulled off, to racial slurs and verbal abuse.
A recent parliamentary report, ‘Employment Opportunities for Muslims in the UK’, highlighted the deep-rooted impact of islamophobia in the workplace and the impact on day-to-day life for Muslims in the UK. Shockingly, statistics reveal that Muslim women are 71% more likely to be unemployed than their Christian counterparts, even when educational experience and language is taken into consideration.
This month is to allow Muslims to collectively express the disproportionate targeting and racism they face for being Muslim. It’s to express the gendered islamophobia we see Muslim women face and really highlight the lived experiences of Muslims.