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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December 2004, 16:10 GMT
'Rise' in Muslim discrimination
By Dominic Casciani
Community affairs, BBC News

Islamophobia has got worse, says the report
Islamophobia has got worse, says the report
Researchers say they have found a sharp rise in discrimination against Muslims in the UK.

A report, backed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, recorded increased levels of abuse compared with earlier surveys.

Proportionally more white Muslims than those from other ethnic backgrounds reported they were suffering prejudice.

Report co-author Arzu Merali said she believed discrimination had become "normalised" in a backlash after the 11September attacks.

According to the report, Muslims from all backgrounds were now experiencing far higher levels of prejudice than in previous years.

In its survey asking people to record their experiences, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, a campaign body, said eight out of 10 respondents said they had suffered discrimination.

Two previous exercises by the organisation in 1999 and 2000 recorded 35% and 45% respectively saying they had experienced discrimination.

'Wake-up call'

Although the research was not conducted in the same way as standard opinion polls - almost a third of respondents took part online after publicity for the study - the authors say that its results support community suspicions that Muslims are being increasingly subject to discrimination.

British society needs fair and consistent anti-discrimination legislation - but it also needs an attitude change
Arzu Merali

In-depth interviews with 40 respondents also added weight to these fears, said the team.

Ms Merali said: "This report reveals that prejudice against Muslims pervades all aspects of society and has become normal and is even considered justifiable in social circles.

"This is a wake-up call for Britain. The British government cannot continue to ignore the depth and nature of anti-Muslim prejudice in the UK."

Some respondents said they had suffered subtle discrimination at school or the workplace.

Others had suffered physical or verbal abuse on public transport. A number of children were also recorded as having been attacked because of their faith, said the authors.

Eight percent of respondents said they experienced discrimination on a daily basis. Just over half said discrimination happened to them occasionally.

Much of the discrimination appeared to form around the idea that British Muslims were somehow culturally "incompatible" with society, the report concluded.

Ms Merali added: "British society needs fair and consistent anti-discrimination legislation. But it also needs an attitude change and this can only come about when government kick-starts the processes required to make anti-Muslim hatred and discrimination an abhorrence - not only under the law but in people's minds."

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