The “Islamophobia industry”

BNP graffiti near the central mosque in Luton.
BNP graffiti near the central mosque in Luton.

I’ve written a long feature for the New Statesman exploring anti-Muslim prejudice in modern Britain. What do we mean when we use the term “Islamophobia”? Has there really been a rise in anti-Muslim hate crime after the Woolwich attack? And why, two years after Sayeeda Warsi warned that this prejudice had “passed the dinner table test” and become socially acceptable, are we still debating whether it exists at all?

For the piece, I spoke to representatives from several mosques that have been attacked in recent weeks, to victims of hate crimes, and to experts. You can read the full piece over at the New Statesman website, and here is a short excerpt.

While arson attacks and petrol bombs at mosques are at the most extreme end of the spectrum, smaller incidents still create an atmosphere of fear and distress. “When I speak to people up north, they say that if there is something negative in their local press about Muslims, in the next few weeks there’ll be an attack or something happening in the street,” says Akeela Ahmed, a member of the government’s working group on Islamophobia. “Sometimes these things are at a low level – flour thrown at the mosque, or graffiti. I don’t think it was until Woolwich that people at a national level took notice.”

I also appeared on the Nick Ferrari Show on LBC on 26 September, talking about similar issues; namely, this BBC survey which found that “a quarter of young people don’t trust Muslims”.


France’s trouble with headscarves

A woman wearing a niqab.
A woman wearing a niqab.

I’m back in London, so have been covering some stories outside Pakistan. This weekend, I contributed to the National, the United Arab Emirates’ leading English language newspaper, for the first time.

I wrote a short feature about Islamophobia in France, and how the ban on wearing headscarves in state schools has resulted in wider discrimination against women who wear the hijab.

You can read the full piece here, and the clipping (linking to the digital edition) is below.

France’s ‘obsession’ with hijabs
Samira Shackle
The Review
Sep 14 2013

Earlier this year, Amina signed up to accompany her nine- year- old daughter, Rabia, on a school trip to a museum. But when she arrived at the school, close to their house in Paris, she had an unpleasant surprise. “The teacher told me that I was not…read more…