A Muslim woman was showered in alcohol in a violent attack on a train in the UK as other passengers silently watched on, researchers have revealed.
“A group of men waved alcoholic drinks in my face, asking me if I wanted some. They continued to chant ‘we are racist, we are racist and we love it’ and asked me if I ate bacon and had a bomb under my scarf,” Hira, the woman involved in the train attack, said.
“They started chanting. I asked the person abusing me to stop but he wouldn’t. Then they dropped alcohol on my coat … People were watching but they ignored it. No one wanted to help,” she added.
The incident was one of many hate crimes on Muslims uncovered in a study conducted by by criminologists Imran Awan of Birmingham City University and Dr Irene Zempi of Nottingham Trent University. The report was commissioned by Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks).
Awan and Zempi’s research, which is believed to be the first study of its kind, carried out in-depth interviews with victims. Their study revealed that Muslims were multiple and repeat victims of both online and offline forms of hate crime but that many of them were reluctant to report these incidents and often received little support from witnesses.
Many Muslim women also said they were now removing their headscarves and men were shaving their beards in an attempt to disguise their faith.
Another woman Sarah, who converted to Islam, said she received abuse after the media began showing news about the Islamic State.
“When I became identifiably Muslim, I got nasty looks, threats and abuse, and that’s an everyday experience, especially because I am a white British Muslim. When I suffer abuse in public, people walk off or stare … I was on my way to the shops and people shouted at me, ‘why don’t we chop your head off?’… Anti-Muslim hate is normal,” she revealed.
The researchers also highlighted another incident concerning a midwife Asma who quit her job after being abused by her patients. “I was on a maternity ward and one of my patients, during a nightshift, was in labour. When she saw me with my hijab, she swore at me. She shouted, ‘I don’t want my baby to see your terrorist face. I don’t want my child to come to this world and see someone like you, a terrorist. Leave my country! How dare you come to my ward and show your ugly face.’ I then left my job as a midwife as I felt a lot of people hate me.”
Further, Awan said the research revealed worrying levels of fear and intimidation by many Muslims, compounded by a lack of support from the wider public when facing physical threats in the real world and an absence of tough action from social media platforms at the abuse people are receiving online.
“Participants argued that anti-Muslim hate must be challenged from within Muslim communities – too often reluctant to report abuse or attacks – and that the public should intervene and assist victims of anti-Muslim hate where possible,” he added.
Moreover, researcher Zempi said, “Our participants made a number of recommendations for tackling anti-Muslim hate crime. We are determined to work with relevant organisations to ensure that their voices are heard and recommendations implemented.”