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Last Updated: Monday, 22 November, 2004, 12:51 GMT
Muslims 'facing most faith bias'
Muslims are now more likely to fight back against Islamophobia - report
Muslims in the UK are more likely to face discrimination based on religion rather than race, a study says.

The report, by the Open Society Institute (OSI), says Islamophobia is adding to the problems of the UK's most disadvantaged faith group.

Muslims youths are at increasing risk of social exclusion, the report's authors say.

They are calling for government policies based on religion rather than ethnicity to tackle Muslims' needs.

The report - launched as part of Islam Awareness Week which begins on Monday - is a follow-up to a study conducted by the OSI in 2002.

Researchers say information then available on UK Muslims was "limited" and new data has now revealed the extent and nature of the deprivation faced by Muslim communities - the UK's second largest faith group.

We've got a new generation of people who feel very much part of Britain and they're not going to just be silent when faced with this kind of thing
Sher Khan, Muslim Council of Britain

Sher Khan of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said the OSI report reinforced earlier findings about the plight of the UK's Muslims.

"This report adds to the body of evidence that's been generated that Muslims feel very much disenfranchised and disconnected," Mr Khan said.

Since 2002 increasing Islamophobia had added to the long-established problems of the group in areas such as education, employment and housing, researchers found.

'Under siege'

Eighty percent of UK Muslims hade reported being victims of Islamophobia since September 11 and more than a third complain of being singled out by authorities while using UK airports.

Young Muslim women were the most likely to report discrimination in the aftermath of September 11 and believed this was related to their decision to wear traditional dress.

Women in hijabs
Young Muslim women "are the most likely to face Islamophobia"

"In the post-September 11 environment, religion is more important than ethnicity in indicating which groups are more likely to experience racism and discrimination," the report concluded.

Also on the rise was dissatisfaction with the criminal justice system, particularly with the perceived unfairness of police stop-and-searches and highly publicised anti-terrorist arrests, the study found.

Between 2001-2003 the number of Asians stopped-and-searched under the Terrorism Act 2000 increased by 302% compared to 118% for white people and 230% for black people.

"The gap between the number of stop-and-searches and that of actual arrests, charges and convictions - is leading to a perception among British Muslims of being unfairly policed, and is fuelling a strong disaffection and a sense of being "under siege," researchers said.


But the authors noted that while reports of Islamophobia were rising, Muslims were now more likely to respond than in 2002.

They said there had been several instances in the recent past in which Muslims had mobilised to complain about particular articles or programmes in the media.

Sher Khan of the MCB believes said he believed that was because many young Muslims are more prepared to speak out than their parent's generation.

"We've got a new generation of people who feel very much part of Britain and they're not going to just be silent when faced with this kind of thing," he said.

However, while Islamophobia had led some Muslims to mobilise it also led to some feeling more estranged from society, Mr Khan added.



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