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More must be done to tackle Islamophobia, Senedd hears

02 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Senedd event on Islamophobia awareness month.

Chris Haines, ICNN Senedd reporter

More must be done to tackle Islamophobia in Wales amid a steep increase in religious hate crimes, the Senedd has heard.

Latest statistics show religious hate crime in England and Wales increased by 9% in 2022/23 to 9,387 offences – the highest number since records began in 2012.

At an event to mark the launch of November’s Islamophobia awareness month, the Senedd heard powerful stories about the prejudices faced by many Muslims every day.

Islamophobia

Nelly Adam told Senedd members that she has had coffee thrown over her, been called a ‘terrorist’ and witnessed her sister’s hijab being removed.

The activist also said she has faced discrimination at school and during job interviews.

Aisha Davies, from Skewen, who recently celebrated 18 years since converting to Islam, said she has faced Islamophobia within her own family.

She was once kicked out of the house on Christmas Eve, she said, after a heated row with a family member who described her faith as an “evil religion”.

Asked what she wants people to know about Islam, she stressed that it’s a peaceful religion.

Ali Ahmed, a Labour councillor in Cathays, who has lived in Cardiff for 45 years, said he was abused on the streets of the city following the Brexit vote.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Alhadj Ali, chair of the Syrian Welsh Society, recalled how he helped a young asylum seeker who was told by classmates to “go back to your own country”.

Alienation

Ali Abdi, who is lead coordinator for the National Minority Ethnic Youth Forum, told the meeting: “For our Muslim youth, Islamophobia can lead to a sense of alienation and erosion of their identity.

“It injects fear and distrust into their everyday lives, causing them to question their place in a society that should be inclusive and embracing.

“The toxic cycle of discrimination not only affects their psychological wellbeing but also obstructs their full participation in various spheres of life, hindering educational, social and professional progress.”

Islamophobia awareness month, in its 11th year, aims to highlight the positive contribution of Muslims, such as the £31 billion they add to the UK economy each year.

Mr Abdi raised the positive example set by Hanna Mohamed, a Muslim of Welsh-Somali heritage, who is a member of the Welsh Youth Parliament.

He also praised Ibby Osman, also of Welsh-Somali descent, who acts as an adviser to the Children’s Commissioner and the National Lottery Community Fund in Wales.

Sioned Williams, who sponsored the event held on Tuesday October 31, called for the devolution of powers over justice to tackle hate crime.

The Plaid Cymru MS for South Wales West said: “If we tolerate injustice against our Muslim citizens, then we tolerate injustice for all – that’s not the Wales we believe in or want.

“We must work together to forge a tolerant and just Wales for all, which values, respects and reflects positively all aspects of diversity.”


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Douglas Harding
Douglas Harding
5 months ago

Very recently, twin sisters, teachers, from Paris, who were born in Algeria but grew up France and graduated from the Sorbonne visited Wales for the third time because they love coming here. They told me that, unlike in Paris, they are always treated with respect and “every one is very kind.” They are strict Muslims and adhere to every aspect of the Islamic faith. I have no faith, except in Nature.

Will Davies
Will Davies
5 months ago

A phobia is defined as an irrational fear. I fear a belief system that advocates the death sentence for gay people and apostates. I also fear a belief system that defines women as “deficient” , allows polygamy, and gives the right to a man to chatise his wife in any way. Finding these things repugnant is not irrational.

Alun Gerrard
Alun Gerrard
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Davies

That is so true.

Geraint
Geraint
5 months ago
Reply to  Will Davies

When I’ve asked Muslims I know about these points they say that like Christianity there are many different views and interpretations of Islam and often there will be fierce disagreements raging between ultra orthodox and reformist communities. There are echoes of these types of views in some Christian communities as well, especially around women doing as they are told by their husbands. There is currently a huge schism in the world wide Anglican community over homosexuality and in Uganda which is a predominately Christian country the law allows for the death penalty for ‘unnatural acts’. I would hope that Will… Read more »

Will Davies
Will Davies
5 months ago

I really think that this has to be addressed, especially by those of us on the “left”. Opposing the spread of Sharia courts, the imposition of the veil on young Welsh-born girls, the preaching of hatred against gays, infidels, and, perhaps, most alarmingly, apostates is not a phobia. If we dont oppose this, we leave an open goal for the real racists.

Jeff
Jeff
5 months ago

When you have the hone sec actively pushing these idea’s, you have the political party that put the home sec in post and is in supporting the home sec, all the regional leaders support the home sec, indeed the idea that they rip away every UK citizens rights to continue to demonise people is seen as a good idea, you don’t need to look far to see why there are problems in the UK.
Be afraid of what this UK government wants to do.

John Williams
John Williams
5 months ago

Quakers, Mormons, Russian Orthodox war- & Putin-supporting church leaders, UVF paramilitaries in N Ireland, self-flagellating Roman Catholic sects, US Christians using poisonous snakes during worship, fascists, communists, racists etc can all be found under the umbrella of Christianity. A fact far too often unrecognised is that the world of Islam and its various sects is equally disparate.
Repugnant views & dangerous beliefs are found amongst Christians, Muslims & atheists. Many more though are indeed peace-loving individuals, happy to live & let-live, or simply just want to get on with their lives without bothering, or being bothered by, other people.

Gruff Williams
Gruff Williams
5 months ago
Reply to  John Williams

These appalling views are not enshrined in law in any Western democracy. Sharia is the law in every Muslim state.

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