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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 June, 2004, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Islamophobia 'just getting worse'
Catherine Hossain on BBC News 24
Catherine Hossain was stoned and told to 'leave England' by youths
A report on Islam in Britain concluded that institutional Islamophobia is on the rise and is making life difficult for British Muslims.

BBC News Online went to a mosque in Shepherd's Bush, west London, and asked worshippers whether they agreed.

Aziz Ahmed, a 24-year-old graduate from west London, feels Muslims are regarded as al-Qaeda terrorists just because of the way they look.

When he walks with his father in the street he says he can feel people looking at his beard and thinking "al-Qaeda terrorist".

Mr Ahmed says he sees the same look on people's faces everywhere he goes.

He is unable to name any institutions that have improved relations between Muslims and non-Muslims and believes things have got worse since 11 September.

"When people think you're a terrorist just because you look like a Muslim, it makes it harder to practise Islam. Some people feel a bit disheartened," he said.

Media 'to blame'

Mr Ahmed believes responsibility lies with politicians and the media.

However, Nasrat Ali, 27, a court worker from St Albans, believes the police and government are doing more to eradicate Islamophobia than the media.

He said: "You ask Muslims which institution is most Islamophobic - give them a multiple choice between the government, media and police and the media will always be number one."

Mr Ali said he felt "victimised" since 11 September even though he is a "Muslim who believes in peace and respect for other religions".

He told how builders abused him on the day Saddam Hussein was captured.
I haven't experienced anything bad. People might say stuff at school for a joke, but they're friends so it's all right
Sayfeddin Bakkali
Pupil at a west London school

He said: "I went to a cafe with a work colleague - an Indian Hindu - when Saddam Hussein got caught. A group of builders came in and we got bombarded.

"They were calling Saddam our leader and abusing us - but he is not my leader. "

Catherine Hossain, from Manchester, told BBC News she had stones thrown at her by teenagers who told her to leave England.

She too blames the media for the rising Islamophobia.

School 'OK'

She said: "The image that certain sections of the media portray - Muslims as the baddy - has an effect on the way that ordinary Muslims in this country are perceived.

"It affects us in our careers and our children in school, being bullied for being terrorists."

But 15-year-old schoolboy Sayfeddin Bakkali has no such trouble.

The teachers and pupils in his west London school are "OK" and have not got worse since 11 September.

He said: "I haven't experienced anything bad. People might say stuff at school for a joke, but they're friends so it's all right."



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