Trigger Warning: This article contains information about racism.
Islamophobia is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness. Having this definition is important in tackling it and raising understanding but not everywhere accepts the definition.
The recent cross-party group on tackling Islamophobia public inquiry report revealed that 83% of respondents experienced Islamophobia directly and 75% of Muslims say that Islamophobia is a regular issue in Scottish society.
It doesn’t even stop there. Islamophobia affects Muslims’ everyday lives. For example, in that same report, just over half of all the Muslim respondents think that Islamophobia has an impact on Muslims’ ability to access Scotland’s public services and institutions.
In terms of employment, 86% of Muslims feel like they are less likely to be shortlisted for jobs or considered for promotion.
When we look wider in UK society 47% would not be willing to accept Muslims as members of their family (the worst figure in Western Europe after Italy (57%) and 33% believe that equal opportunities have gone too far when it comes to Muslims and 43% concerned if mosque built near them.
These statistics alone are shocking enough for change. However nothing has really changed, just words and no real action.
Looking at this from my personal experience when in school someone said I had a bomb in my bag and threw it in the bin or told people not to be my friend or go near me as I was a terrorist.
The support was non-existent and I know it’s the same now as my sister faced Islamophobia in school recently. What happened in school affected my mental health greatly it’s not just words, it can really impact someone’s lives even in the long term.
It wasn’t even with my mental health it affected it also made me change who I am like becoming atheist, drinking, getting tattoos tried to look more “normal” and to show I’m not different that I’m not a Muslim even went by Sam.
More needs to be done to address Islamophobia in schools to make it a safe and encouraging environment that will enable Muslim students to thrive in education.
All young people, regardless of their religious beliefs, should have the confidence instilled in them that they can succeed in whatever career dreams they have without the fear of being attacked.
It’s time for us all to come together to say enough is enough for all hate crimes, words aren’t enough. It’s also vital in achieving what we all aim for Scotland to be a truly inclusive, welcoming place for all.
If you need support or someone to talk to you can contact Stop Hate UK on 0800 138 1625
This article was originally published in The National.