The number of Muslim women reporting hate crime has risen by up to 10%, according to a UK charity.
TELL MAMA, a national project measuring anti-Muslim incidents, has told Sky News that over the last 18 months they have seen a 5-10% increase. The number of women wearing the niqab, the face veil, and reporting hate crime has also doubled in the last two years.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of TELL MAMA, says it is not clear whether incidents are rising or reporting of the problem is getting better.
“Over the last two years our data has shown that women suffer more incidents of hate and they also suffer more aggressive incidents of hate,” he said. “The veil seems to delegitimise the sense of femininity of that person in the eyes of the perpetrator. It seems to become something they become fixated upon rather than the individual, the female behind the veil.”
Research has shown that Muslim women are subjected to “opportunistic” verbal or physical attacks, mostly by men, on the street.
Yasmeen Khalid, 21, from Bromsgrove, says she has always faced abuse, but the problem has become worse in recent months. She says out of 30 different hate crime incidents, she has only ever reported two, and admits wearing a hijab has made her a target.
“By looking, they instantly know I’m Muslim… sometimes people call me a terrorist, sometimes they say ‘Paki’, sometimes someone has called me ‘Taliban’ or stuff like that,” she said. “Sometimes I walk off humiliated – I shouldn’t be humiliated but I am humiliated. Sometimes I speak up, sometimes I just cry, go away somewhere, and cry because I don’t know what to do.”
Fiyaz Mughal says there’s “been an enormous shift in the language of anti-Muslim hate. International and national incidents create differences in the way narratives are set.”
Shalina Litt, from Birmingham, has been the victim of racist abuse on the street while wearing the hijab or niqab. “Actually we are mothers, we are daughters, we are sisters,” she said. “I really just hope that any mothers, any daughters etc., can speak to their sons and say actually it’s not right and we do need to change how we approach this.”
The TELL MAMA project highlights there is still “substantial under reporting” by the Muslim community about hate crime. Part of their approach involves working with different agencies through community outreach and education.