Have Your Say

British Muslims give their views on prejudice

Baroness Warsi, co-chairman of the Tory Party, says prejudice against Muslims in the UK has become socially acceptable.

She also warned against dividing Muslims into moderates and extremists, saying such labels fuel misunderstanding.

In reaction, many British Muslims have contacted the BBC to share their own experiences.

Here is what some of them had to say.

Ovais Rizvi, a business development consultant living in Northolt

I've been born and raised in the UK. Before 9/11 it wasn't much of an issue being Muslim but afterwards, the Pakistani jokes changed to Muslim jokes, even with my non-Muslim friends.

I tend to find the media doesn't help, including the BBC. A case of domestic violence involving Muslims will automatically get a headline saying 'A Muslim man beat up his wife', which immediately gives a negative image of Muslims.

But how many times do we hear of crimes committed by non-Muslims where the person is described as an atheist man or a Christian man or even a gay man? Significantly lower is the answer.

I'm fairly liberal, I voted Conservative and I'm anti-terrorism, but I am a Muslim man and I am conscious that the perception of someone who doesn't know me would be one of radicalism.

The problem for Muslims in the UK is there isn't a central figure who can speak for and represent Muslims. We have to hear from general voices too, the Muslim CEO, the Muslim banker, the Muslim technician, so we have some general representation.

Rina Begum, freelance make-up artist living in London

I'm a Muslim woman. I don't cover myself so I get non-Muslim people remarking on it and saying that I'm 'different'. There's no understanding that not everyone does the same thing.

At the beginning even my agnostic boyfriend didn't understand that not all Muslims are the same because all he knew about Muslims was what he saw in the media.

I would say to people get to know your Muslim friends and colleagues before you make judgements.

You could say that if Muslims are misunderstood then they should explain themselves, but it can be quite frustrating.

I know if I was curious about something and wanted to know more I would read up on it, not ask ignorant or silly questions.

Mohammed Kawsar, a grants officer from Birmingham

Why is Baroness Warsi raising the subject of Islam as a talking point? To me it seems pretty farcical, almost counter-productive. All she is doing is bringing the whole Islam-Islamaphobia issue to the fore.

There haven't been any Muslim extremism stories in the press in the last few weeks, so it's almost like opening a sore wound.

I'm a Muslim, and not bothered by what people say and think about my faith. I live by example, to show people that not all Muslims are terrorists. I don't get involved in the 'politics' because I believe that just plays to the opposition.

Anti-Muslims just want a provoked response and unfortunately, thanks to the likes of Baroness Warsi, they get just that.

There are prejudices, but there are other prejudices occurring in different parts of the world that are far more important than this.

Tariq Hussain, working in IT in Bedford

I am a British born Muslim and proudly so, but what I have experienced over the past years has been upsetting.

I'm involved in helping young Muslims integrate into society. But it's hard when they see headlines about someone who has done something stupid described as a Muslim, when religion isn't relevant to what they've done. The young people say 'Oh what's the point? That's who they think we are anyway.'

I always considered myself part of wider British society and of this country, but now with so much negativity around in so many ways you think twice.

There is a responsibility on Muslims to move with the times and I believe it's possible to do that without either compromising your religion or putting it in people's faces.

I pray five times a day, I fit this round work and meetings, but I know some people who don't and that is just foolish.

Sayed Jamal, supporting students in Further Education in Cornwall

On one occasion after the London bombings, I was at a bus stop and had my work bag on my shoulder. I heard some one say to another person 'I wonder what is in that bag'.

There is a lot of indirect stereotyping and commenting that people won't think of as significant, but it becomes very important to the listener.

I've lived in the UK for 37 years and I don't know of anyone else living near me who is also from Afghanistan so I understand why some Muslims stay together. People need the comforts of a shared language and culture. There are lots of frightening, daunting and intimidating circumstances where people need to be near someone else who understands their fears.

Problems are caused by ignorance and lack of understanding so I think bringing it out into the public will help. Debating the issue can only improve relations between members of our diverse and multicultural society.

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