Muslim woman drowned in alcohol in Islamophobic attack on a train, report finds

Imran Awan is a criminalogist at Birmingham City University

Passengers on a train idly watched on as a helpless Muslim woman was showered in alcohol in a violent Islamophobic attack, Birmingham researchers have revealed.

The victim’s experience is one of many religious hate attacks on Muslims that were revealed in a study by Birmingham City University criminologist Imran Awan.

The full report, commissioned by Tell MAMA was presented in Parliament yesterday.

Believed to be the first ever study of its kind, researchers examined the impact of anti-Muslim hate crime through in-depth interviews with victims.

The woman who had alcohol poured on her said: “People were watching but they ignored it. No-one wanted to help.”

The study revealed many Muslims were reluctant to report incidents of abuse and often received little support from onlookers.

Another participant told researchers: “A man shouted to me and my Muslim friends, ‘You are terrorists, I’m gonna come to the back of the bus and stab you’.

“I told the bus driver and asked him to stop and call the police but he refused.”

Meanwhile, many Muslim women said they are removing their headscarves and men are shaving their beards in a bid to disguise their Islamic beliefs through fear of being targeted in religious hate attacks.

The study, which looked at attacks on Muslims both online and “in real life”, also uncovered evidence that men are especially unwilling to report attacks through fear of being seen as weak.

Mr Awan and Dr Irene Zempi, a criminology lecturer at Nottingham Trent University who also carried out the research, are now calling on social media websites to take threats posed to users more seriously.

Mr Awan said: “This research reveals worrying levels of fear and intimidation experienced by many Muslims, compounded by a lack of support from the wider public when facing physical threats in the real world and an absence of tough action from social media platforms at the abuse people are receiving online.

“Participants argued that anti-Muslim hate must be challenged from within Muslim communities – too often reluctant to report abuse or attacks – and that the public should intervene and assist victims of anti-Muslim hate where possible.”

Dr Zempi added: “Our participants made a number of recommendations for tackling anti-Muslim hate crime. We are determined to work with relevant organisations to ensure that their voices are heard and recommendations implemented.”

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