UK ‘Islamophobia’ rises after 11 September

Muslims in one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse cities have suffered an increase in racist abuse and attacks since 11 September, according to research. An academic survey of racist incidents in Leicester supports fears that the UK is witnessing a rise in Islamophobia – fear or intolerance of Muslims because of their religion.

Earlier in the year, a European Union anti-racism research agency warned there was anecdotal evidence of a rise in Islamophobia. The research by the University of Leicester is the first detailed study into the actual effects of 11 September on a Muslim community.

Racist and religious attacks in Leicester rose dramatically after 11 September, the university’s research found, before dropping back during 2002.

Attacks included abuse hurled at children on their way to school or women shopping, to one reported incident where a baby was tipped out of a pram. One man reported that he had eggs thrown at him outside a supermarket and then had to run as a car was driven at him. Another victim reported that he had had to get off a bus after another passenger screamed accusations that he was a bomber.

The research also found that Hindus and Sikhs also suffered increased abuse after 11 September, although not to the same degree.

Dr Lorraine Sheridan who conducted the research for the university, said that she had been shocked by what she had found.

“The attacks are being carried out by people who don’t like Islam, the abuse is more about the religion than the race. They think that it victimises women and that Muslims refuse to integrate. The people behind the attacks think that Muslims are outside of society and they are different.

“What is of most concern is that this is happening in Leicester, a leading multi-ethnic city which is supposed to be a model for the rest of the UK.”

BBC News, 29 August 2002