'People grab our veils, call us terrorists and want us dead': What it's really like to be a Muslim woman in Britain
Islamophobic attacks have been on the rise ever since 9/11, but it is mostly women being attacked, a recent report suggests. Ava Vidal shares stories from British Muslim women who face everyday awful abuse
May 6 2014
“It is something I have got used to since 9/11. From being called Osama Bin Laden to Paki-terrorist I have heard it all,” Zab Mustefa, a British Muslim journalist, who specialises in women’s rights and culture, tells me.
Since the terrorist attacks on New York City that brought down the twin towers, it seems life has not been the same for Muslims that live in the western world. Suddenly there was a spotlight shone on Islam when most non-Muslims had barely given it a second thought before.
And many people decided that all Muslims were against ‘us’. Everything was under scrutiny. Their style of dress, their beliefs, their way of life. People that had never even read the Qu’ran believed they had more knowledge than Islamic scholars.
“Look at the way they treat their women!” is a statement that I often hear. “Forcing them to cover up. Not allowing them to go out alone and controlling everything that they do.”
“What about Saudi Arabia? They don’t even let women drive!”
But it’s a false perception.
I am not denying that there are countries where the predominant religion is Islam where women are treated badly. But patriarchy is the problem, not Islam. In Islam, the rights of women were recognised much earlier than they were in the West.
In any case, we in the UK don’t come up smelling of roses when we examine the inequality between the sexes either. A UN human rights inspector recently declared the sexism in the UK to be more ‘pervasive’ and ‘in your face’ than any country she has ever visited and that included some Muslim countries.
What I find totally abhorrent is the fact that since concern for Muslim women is so often cited, how come they are the targets of so much abuse in today’s society?