Veiled Muslim women and Islamophobic attacks
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday February 01 2017
Luton Today reports on local Muslim women who have featured in a BBC documentary about the increasing level of abuse faced by women who wear hijab or niqab.
The documentary by BBC1’s Inside Out programme, broadcast on Monday, showed two Luton residents, Jahera and Nishrat, who have been victims of anti-Muslim attacks in the town.
Jahera, who has lived in Luton for over 40 years, told reporter Sophie Sulehria she had stopped going into town after an incident where a man pulled at her face veil.
She said: “A man pulled up my niqab and shouted at me. It brought this fear in me and for a long while I just avoided going out.”
Jahera said she now goes to town only twice a year and has learned to drive in order to avoid confrontations in the street but said abusers “still shout, it happens all the time.”
University student Nishrat Islam told Sophie she was verbally abused by three men when she went out dressed in a niqab one time.
Nishrat said, “In a day I experienced all that. Imagine how the girls and the women who wear the niqab everyday must feel”.
“Most think it’s normal, but it’s not normal. They shouldn’t experience that at all,” she said.
Neither woman reported their hate crime incidents to the police, with Jahera saying she thought they would treat the matter as “trivial”.
Over 800 hate crimes have been reported in Bedfordshire over the past year, but police feel this is a fraction of the total number, especially in regards to Islamophobic crimes.
Local women’s rights campaigner Rehana Faisal said cases involving abuse against Muslim women are hard to prove because “often it will be something shouted or a scarf taken off, things that are not necessarily seen”. She said when dealing with victims she has to often acknowledge that cases may never make it to court.
The fears expressed by Jahera and Nishrat in the programme are not isolated or unfounded. Their stories resonate with other Muslim female victims of Islamophobic incidents that have been reported such as the attack on a Muslim woman on Oxford Street in central London as she made her way to work, the Muslim woman in Chingford who was dragged along the pavement by her hijab, and the Muslim woman who was accosted as she ate at a restaurant in Hammersmith by a man who told her she “shouldn’t be here” before grabbing at her hijab. Last April, Asian Image covered several alleged incidents against Muslim women who wear hijab or niqab, including a doctor who was spat at and a mother who had a canned drink thrown at her. While some of these victims have spoken out against their victimisation on grounds of religion, too many still think reporting incidents to the police is a “waste of time”.