Muslim women ‘too scared to leave house’
Warning that ‘people wearing a hijab are clear target’
31 May, 2019 — By Calum Fraser
Mohammed Kozbar, chief executive at Finsbury Park Mosque
MUSLIM women are avoiding public transport and keeping children away from school as the “disease of racism” spreads in Islington, community leaders warned this week.
Mohammed Kozbar, chief executive at Finsbury Park Mosque, told the Tribune that the issue of Islamophobia was now “very urgent”, with women being “particularly vulnerable”.
Islington’s Rakhia Ismail, the UK’s first mayor to wear a hijab, blamed national politicians for stoking anti-Muslim sentiment with degrading language.
She added: “There are so many woman who are sometimes too scared to go out of the house, I have that myself sometimes. People like me wearing a hijab are a clear target for the far-right. There are so many woman who are even too scared to go to the mosque.
Islington’s mayor cllr Rakhia Ismail
Councillor Ismail said Conservative leadership contender Boris Johnson’s article in the Daily Telegraph which compared woman who wear burkas to “letter boxes” was an example of how language could be divisive. She also cited Donald Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric at public rallies.
“The British community is amazing,” she said. “We never had Islamophobia before. Now it is a trend, it’s becoming normal. I feel sorry for the people who have been fed these lies. It’s like giving a child junk food. It’s unhealthy and it makes them worse but they can’t stop.”
The comments came in the week that police revealed that nine examples of “far-right” graffiti have appeared across the borough in the past six months, with mosques receiving an increasing number of threats.
Mr Kozbar said: “Our community is scared. Women are particularly vulnerable here. Some of them come in here saying they can’t take children to school or use public transport because they don’t feel safe. It is not acceptable. We must tackle the disease of racism and Islamophobia.”
Paul Holborow, Islington’s Stand Up to Racism convener, warned that a “fraying of the fabric of society” was to blame for the return of “far-right” sentiment.
He added: “I know it is the same old answer, but austerity has created this poisonous environment. For every overcrowded classroom, for every overcrowded house, it makes people angry.
“Their life is worse than their parents, so people are susceptible to arguments of the far-right. And a tiny minority are lured by the accompanying violence.”
Mr Holborow added: “We are calling on the whole of Islington to deface any racist graffiti they see and to call out every incident of racism they come across.”