Muslim woman was doused in alcohol on train in Islamophobic attack, study reveals

Incident one of many in study of hate crime that lays bare UK Muslims’ reluctance to report abuse and lack of support from wider public

 A Muslim woman in a veil in east London. A midwife told researchers she quit her job after being abused by a patient who saw her in a hijab.        A Muslim woman was showered in alcohol in a violent Islamophobic attack on a train as other passengers silently watched on, researchers have revealed.

The incident was one of many hate attacks on Muslims uncovered in a study by criminologists Imran Awan of Birmingham City University and Dr Irene Zempi of Nottingham Trent University. The full report, commissioned by Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), will be unveiled in parliament on Tuesday.

In what is believed to be the first study of its kind, Awan and Zempi examined the impact of anti-Muslim hate crime through in-depth interviews with victims.

They revealed that many Muslims were reluctant to report incidents of abuse and often received little support from witnesses. Hira, the woman involved in the train attack, said a group of men waved alcoholic drinks in her face, asking her if she wanted some. They continued to chant “we are racist, we are racist and we love it” and asked her if she ate bacon and had a bomb under her scarf.

“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 said.

Sarah, who converted to Islam, said she received abuse following reports of incidents involving Isis in the media. She said: “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.

Asma, a midwife, quit her job after being abused by her patients. She said: “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.”

Awan and Zempi revealed that Muslims were multiple and repeat victims of both online and offline forms of hate crime. Many Muslim women said they were now removing their headscarves and men were shaving their beards in an attempt to disguise their faith.

Awan said: “This research reveals worrying levels of fear and intimidation experienced 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.”

Zempi added: “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.”


The Guardian

F. Achouri

Sociologue spécialiste de l’islam contemporain.

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