Nearly two-thirds of Muslim women witness hate crime in Scotland – survey

Nearly two-thirds of Muslim women in Scotland surveyed have witnessed or experienced Islamophobia.

Amina, the Muslim Women’s Resource Centre (MWRC), carried out research on hatred towards Muslim women.

They surveyed 101 Muslim women and found 64% said they had experienced or witnessed Islamophobia, and of these, 74% said it had happened to them.

Respondents told of having their hijab pulled off, being spat at, and being told “go back to where you came from” despite being born in Scotland.

One said: “A lady came too close to me and said ‘take off your headscarf’.”

Another said: “A man with a dog was shouting racist abuse and said it wasn’t worth the effort for the dog to bite me.”

The majority (57%) said the incident took place in the street or neighbourhood, while just under a quarter (23%) said it happened in the workplace and around a fifth (21%) said it happened on public transport.

More than three quarters of those affected said the incident involved shouting and swearing.

A total of nine in 10 (90%) said no bystanders helped them. A majority of respondents (65%) did not report the hate crime.

The survey findings have been presented to the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia.

Group chairman Anas Sarwar said: “This new research shows that Islamophobia is a real and traumatic experience for Muslim women in Scotland.

“All hatred and prejudice must be tackled, but sadly we must also recognise the gendered nature of it, which sees Muslim women more likely to experience an Islamophobic incident.

“More often than not, those responsible are men.

“We can’t leave the fight against prejudice and hate to the Muslim community alone, or to women alone – it’s a fight for all of us.”

Anti-racism rally in Glasgow
Labour MSP Anas Sarwar (centre) at a rally in Glasgow organised by Stand up to Racism Scotland (Mark Runnacles/PA)

Amina MWRC wants the Scottish Government to increase resources to tackle anti-Muslim hate, suggesting women are more likely to be targeted, harassed and attacked.

Samina Ansari, Amina MWRC chief executive, said: “Through our national helpline and the various frontline services we provide, there have been countless stories narrated of Muslim women being physically or verbally attacked, or discriminated at work based on their religious identity.

“The impact of these crimes can be profound, and more needs to be done to ensure we have the inclusive and cohesive society we all want.”

The organisation has called for an awareness campaign to encourage victim and witness reporting.

Scottish Government statistics show 18% of religiously aggravated charges in Scotland in 2017/18 was for those targeting Islam, down from the recent high of 23% in 2015/16 but higher than the 12% recorded in 2012/13.

The most recent census from 2011 shows that 76,737 people in Scotland declared themselves Muslim – equating to 1.4% of the population.

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