CAIRO – A new book by two two criminology lecturers at the University of Leicester has found that Muslim women donning full face-veil or niqab say there are no-go areas in Leicester where they face hate attacks even in a car.
“People feel free to have a pop at us every day,” one woman who took part in the study told Leicester Mercury on Tuesday, July 8.
“They swear, stare, spit and tell us to go home. They call us terrorists.”
The book is based on more than 100 interviews for Leicester-based Muslim women over a 12-month period.
Titled, Islamophobia, Victimization and the Veil, the book included revelations from Muslim women who claimed that it is getting increasingly difficult to avoid such incidents in the city centre.
The book was written by Dr Irene Zempi and Neil Chakraborti.
“There are areas in Leicester we don’t go to, even in a car,” the woman, who did not wish to be named, added.
“It is also becoming more difficult to wear the niqab in the city centre. I don’t go in any more unless I really have to.”
A niqab is a veil which covers part or most of the wearer’s face, leaving the eyes visible.
“I am as British as anyone. We follow the football and the tennis at home. My boys try to make a joke of it calling me ‘Ninja mum’.
“We had thought that if we ignore it, it would go away. It hasn’t.”
Many of the women interviewed said they had moved to the city in the belief that Leicester would provide a better life for them and their families.
Nevertheless, one woman said she had tea thrown at her and another said she was elbowed in the stomach when pregnant.
“It is worse elsewhere, but there are racist people even in Leicester,” a 36-year-old quoted in the book said.
“We moved to Leicester because it’s a safer community here. It’s better for our children as well. Leicester is more tolerant, but there is still Islamophobia.”
Another woman, who moved to Leicester from Holland, shared similar concerns.
“We are a bit more sheltered here, but no matter how diverse a place is, it’s always going to happen,” she said.
Another added: “I don’t understand why everyone says Leicester is safe. It’s much easier to do niqab in Birmingham.”
In their Shoes
Writing the book, Dr Zempi wore a niqab for a month to understand what her interviewees experienced.
“Attitudes to me changed overnight,” she said.
“People were abusive and threatening, and where previously shop assistants were friendly, they simply ignored me.
“I did not want to go out and I became depressed.”
“The level of abuse that participants faced depended upon whether they were in their local community or whether they were leaving their ‘comfort zone’.
“Some participants referred to ‘no-go zones’ for Muslims in Leicester such as the traditionally white areas of Braunstone, Beaumont Leys, Saffron Lane, New Parks, Hamilton and even Leicester city centre,” she added.
Concerned with the increasing attacks, Shaista Gohir, chair of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, urged Muslim women to report all hate incidents.
“I would urge women to report all incidents of abuse. I am sure that there is underreporting of such issues,” Gohir, who studied at De Montfort University, said.
“When I was a student in Leicester 25 years ago we were told to avoid those areas which have been mentioned if we had a brown skin. The veil and the head scarf were very rare then.
“It appears that attitudes in those areas have not changed.”
A police spokeswoman confirmed that there had been 11 instances of religiously-based abuse aimed at women in the past year, one of them was of a man removing a woman’s veil.
“Police safer neighborhood teams are continuing to work hard at making all places of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland a safe place to work and live,” she said.
“We would always encourage anyone who feels that they may have been a victim of a crime to contact police so the matter can be fully investigated.
“We would urge all victims of hate crime to report it to us by calling 101.”
Britain is home to a Muslim community of nearly 2.7 million.
While hijab is an obligatory code of dress for Muslim women, the majority of Muslim scholars agree that a woman is not obliged to wear niqab.
Scholars believe it is up to women to decide whether to take on the veil or burqa, a loose outfit covering the whole body from head to toe and wore by some Muslim women.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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