In this Spotlight series, The Features editorial team have dug deep to keep you informed on outsider stories that were missed in mainstream news.
London, as one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, represents for many a mentality of open-mindedness and progression, with 37 per cent of the population born outside the UK. However, despite its multiculturalism, there isn’t always a sense of acceptance between different communities in the capital. In 2017, the number of arrests made for terrorist-linked offences rose 68 per cent and since then high-profile cases like Shamina Begum have frequented our television screens. This is accompanied by a significant rise in Islamophobic behaviour with a 40 per cent increase in hate crimes just days after events like the London Bridge terrorist attack and the EU referendum. However, the issue seems much more systemic than blatant racism.
40 per cent increase in hate crimes just days after events like the London Bridge terrorist attack and the EU referendum.
This racist rhetoric is reflected in the opinions of powerful politicians like Boris Johnson, who has been quoted describing Muslim women who choose to wear burqas as “letter boxes”. Activist Amal Bider, who recently was at the forefront of a campaign against racism at Goldsmiths University, reaffirms that “We have a Prime Minister who is Islamophobic, and who is allowed to get away with that. There is no room for us in society.”
With what seems like all the odds against you, what can we as a society possibly do to combat this prejudice? Recently, Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern condemned mass shooters in Christchurch as terrorists as opposed to the “shooter” label that is often given to white supremacists. Her conduct set an example for other world leaders on sensitivity, and our responsibility to help support other communities. Allowing Islamaphobic rhetoric is not just a side-effect of a new far-right-led society, but further evidence that we are choosing to move backwards. Regardless of race or ethnicity, allowing the marginalisation of a community reflects a toxic attitude which only appears to be growing more acceptable in this new political environment.