Gendered Islamophobia

Nearly two-thirds of Muslim women in Scotland have witnessed or experienced a hate incident or crime, according to a new survey.

Amina, the Muslim Women’s Resource Centre, has undertaken a project to understand the scale of gendered Islamophobia in Scotland.

Of 100 Muslim women surveyed:
• 64% had either witnessed or experienced a hate incident or crime, and 74% of those said it had happened to them.
• Asked where the incident took place, 57% said in the street or neighbourhood, 23% in the workplace and 21% on public transport.
• Asked about the nature of the incident, 78% said it involved shouting and swearing. Women said they had their hijab pulled off, were spat at, and women born here were told to ‘go back to where you came from’.
• 91% said there was no bystander intervention or support following the incident.
• 65% did not report the incident.

The findings have been presented to the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia.
Amina MWRC has called on the Scottish Government to increase resources to tackle the rise in anti-Muslim hate, with evidence suggesting women are more likely to be targeted, harassed and attacked.
The organisation has also called for an awareness campaign to encourage victim and witness reporting.

The most recent census from 2011 shows that 76,737 people in Scotland declared themselves to be Muslim – equating to 1.4% of the population.
The 2017-18 bulletin ‘Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2017-18’ shows that 18% of religiously aggravated offending in 2017-18 was for conduct which was derogatory towards Islam. The corresponding figure for 2012-13 was 12%.

Samina Ansari, chief executive of Amina MWRC, said:
“Through our national helpline and the various frontline services we provide, there have been countless stories narrated of Muslim women being physically and 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.”

One Muslim women who was surveyed said:
“An air hostess made an assumption that I couldn’t speak English and therefore was not appropriate for me to sit at an emergency exit row and moved me to another seat.”

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

Anas Sarwar MSP, chair of the CPG on Tackling Islamophobia, 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.”

Amina MWRC works to empower, inspire and support Muslim women, supporting over 4,000 women a year. More information is available here: https://mwrc.org.uk/