Fear of terror attacks is as real for ordinary Muslims in Britain as it is for anyone else, the leader of a faith group said, as she and others told of worsening Islamophobia in the wake of atrocities this year.
Those who look on Muslims with suspicion risk causing a more divided society, and misunderstand the true teachings of the religion, said Fariha Khan, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association in the UK.
Dr Khan was among those who stood on Westminster Bridge just days after Khalid Masood’s terror attack in March, in which five people died.
The 40-year-old GP, from Surbiton, south-west London, accompanied dozens of others at the event, organised by the Women’s March On London, to openly condemn the murderous rampage.
Since then, more people had been killed in atrocities in Manchester and London, and with this came discrimination and Islamophobia, Dr Khan said.
“People have to consider that fear of these attacks is as real for us as it is for them. We are also out there commuting to work or out with our families and children,” she said.
“Being suspicious of ordinary Muslims, and the majority of Muslims are peaceful members of the society, will only create divisions among the society.”
For hijab-wearing women the attitude has become more hostile, according to two who said they have heard comments in the street and have both had to report online trolls.
Mother-of-two Navida Sayed said: “I’ve definitely felt the coldness in the sense, you know, no-one smiles any more.”
The 49-year-old Hounslow resident, whose mother came to the UK from Pakistan in the 1960s, said she had never felt such Islamophobia.