British Muslims: Discrimination is rife

The number of British Muslims who say they experience discrimination has nearly doubled in the past four years, according to a survey.

    Eighty percent of British Muslim women complain of prejudice

    Eighty per cent of the country's 1.8 million Muslims say

    they have been discriminated against because of their faith

    compared to 45% in 2000 and 35% in 1999, the

    Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said on Thursday.

    Muslim men are now just as likely as women to experience

    prejudice - a significant change which the IHRC blamed on an

    increase in the number of police and security checks carried out

    on Muslim men since the September 11 attacks in 2001.

    White British Muslims report more discrimination than any

    other ethnic group, suggesting Britons are intolerant of people

    who convert to Islam.

    "What's happened, post 9/11, is that some very deeply rooted

    prejudices - things that weren't articulated in the public

    realm - have found expression," Arzu Merali, one of the authors

    of the report, said.

    Anti-terrorism laws

    Eight per cent of the 1200 Muslims questioned in the survey

    said they experienced some sort of discrimination every day.

    Another 8% said it was a weekly problem, 8%

    described it as monthly, and 55% said they had been

    discriminated against "on some occasions".

    "The anti-terrorism laws are profiling and targeting Muslim

    men. Our case studies suggest nearly every Muslim

    man living in an urban area, particularly in London, has either

    been stopped and searched or knows someone who has"

    Arzu Merali,
    Islamic Human Rights Commission

    Only 15% said they had never experienced

    discrimination on the basis of their faith.

    Eighty per cent of Muslim women complained of prejudice

    compared to 78% of men. In previous IHRC surveys the

    gender difference has been much more pronounced.

    "The anti-terrorism laws are profiling and targeting Muslim

    men," Merali said. "Our case studies suggest nearly every Muslim

    man living in an urban area, particularly in London, has either

    been stopped and searched or knows someone who has."

    Religious discrimination

    In the past, she said, women were more readily identifiable

    as Muslims because of their dress and headscarves.

    Now, however, Muslim men are equally visible - partly

    because the public has got used to seeing turbaned, bearded men

    on their television sets.

    Muslims in the United Kingdom
    suffered a backlash after 9/11

    The IHRC, a research body and lobby group, urged the

    government to do more to promote positive images of Islam.

    Britain's Muslims have long complained of an upsurge in

    abuse since the September 11 attacks and the subsequent war on

    terror, in which London has played a leading role.

    Many Muslims feel they are viewed with suspicion by fellow

    Britons.

    The government has vowed to bring in legislation to outlaw

    incitement to hatred on religious grounds. At present, such laws

    only exist to protect people on the basis of their colour, race,

    gender or ethnic origin.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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