Society Article: Cover your back but not your head: Islamphobia

Society continues to develop but issues of race and gender are on – going in the 21st century. To be identified as a Muslim is now the new faux pas.

The headscarf (hijab) is such a visual symbol for Muslin women and in an era of war on terror creates a difficult living.

The triple threat of being a female, an ethnic minority and a Muslim in a world where media outlets mostly polarises culture promotes Islamphobia.

Unitas Communications submitted a study for the Leveson Inquiry in 2012 entitled ‘Race and Reform: Islam and Muslims in the British Media.’ Post 9/11 displayed the analysis of 352 articles randomly collected in a one week period in 2007, showing that 91% articles about Muslims was negative; 4% positive; and 5% neutral.

The study extends to the reporting of Muslims has given prominence in characterising cultural differences with British values, concentrating on conversion, veils, honour killings, Muslim separatism, immigration, calls for censorship and Muslim protests.

In 2010, France banned facial covering headgear, including balaclava, helmets, masks, niqabs and other facial veil covering in public spaces.

The main argument supporting this legislation is that facial coverage in public spaces hinders actual identification of a person, which classes as a social barrier in communication within a society that relies on facial expression and recognition, and increase security risk.

Muna Issac, student, 18, Sheffield, said: “I wear the hijab but not all the time, so I can see the difference in how people treat me, its like my own social experiment. The reaction with the hijab is more uneasy, judged and people tend to ask more ignorant questions.”

The main argument for the burka ban in France is that its a violation in freedom of expression and speech.

In 2014, the European court of human rights (ECHR) accepted France’s burqa ban as it was France’s legitimate aim to promote citizens to co – exist.

The ECHR decision proves intense – when Islamphobia is at a fundamental point, exasperates the dynamics of the Western world and the Muslim world.

Wiam Hussan, student, 20, Sheffield, said: “There’s definitely a ‘them versus us’ mentality amongst the western and Muslim countries. The harsh reality is that people will see me and my community who are born the UK, to deemed alien, purely on my faith, my attire and my food.”

A recent publication of the Teeside University revealed that over half of Islamophobic attacks in the UK are committed against females, who are generally targeted for their attire associated with Islam.

The views of the West on hijabs is that its restrictive for the women and makes others feel uncomfortable. However, a legislation like France promotes irony as this legislation forces one to remove their religious garment, the same ‘force’ they are concerned that oppress them.

References

Unitas Communications Ltd, 2012. Race and Reform: Islam and Muslims in the British Media. [online] Available at:<http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:mmsIwTIJnq4J:www.unitascommunications.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/race-and-reform.pdf+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk> [Accessed 30/03/15]

Cambridge Journal of International and Compartive Law, 2014. ECHR Chamber Judgement Case of S.A.S. V France: Banning of burqas and niqabs legal? [online] Available at:<http://cjicl.org.uk/2014/07/21/echr-chamber-judgment-case-s-s-v-france-banning-burqas-niqabs-legal/> [Accessed 20/03/15]

The Guardian, 2014. France’s burqa ban upheld by human rights court. [online] Available at:<http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/01/france-burqa-ban-upheld-human-rights-court> [Accessed 30/03/15]

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