“It was surprising to hear publicly, but the experiences he had were similar to what I had, things that I saw my father go through,” Um E Aymen, 23, told The Big Issue. “It was a trigger for past memories… especially the incident [about having] red wine was flowing down his throat. I remember when I lived in Derby, my dad got beer tossed by racists and called himself “p ***” all the time. It was as if I was listening to my father speak.
“The testimony made me sad and emotional,” added Huda, 24. “It reminded me of when I was bullied in my old workplace. I felt very isolated and verbally abused. The constant stereotypes I received because of my scarf took their toll on me. . “
The three British Muslims also opened up to The Big Issue about the racial discrimination they faced in their own lives.
Fahad said: “I recently quit a job after being the victim of racist abuse for several months. In my last role, I was the Marketing Director and the only person of color in a leadership role. The same kind of thing that happened to Azeem [resonates] with me, like name calling.
Fahad said he had been called “Rishi” on several occasions, a reference to Chancellor Rishi Sunak. “When I got promoted to senior management it was presented as a joke,” he added.
“During my master’s degree, I had an incident where one of the guys in my college called me ‘p ***’. When I reported it to the college, no action was taken, ”Um E Aymen said. “The whole committee was only made up of white men who smiled and didn’t take it seriously. And they were like, ‘Wow, this is the first time this has happened.’ It was completely ridiculous. This isn’t the first time someone has had a racist incident, nor is it the first time it’s been reported.
Huda said, “As a black Muslim woman, institutional racism is something you cannot escape. In healthcare facilities, the “strong black woman” narrative is used to minimize my illness. In public transport, people move to the next seat and it becomes scary to stand near [the edge of] train platforms. You don’t know what micro-aggression to expect in your workplace, the rude looks from the police… it’s a never-ending list. You become insensitive to it.
Rafiq’s testimony has intensified public discourse on the issue of institutional racism and Islamophobia, and the three British Muslims believe there are many lessons people can learn from his ordeal.
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“It’s not okay to pass this off as jokes. I think that’s the most important thing I can say, ”Fahad said.
“One thing in particular with the Azeem Rafiq case is how much Islamophobia is linked to racism. My mother wears a burqa and a hijab. When I was younger, two white men tried to tear off his burqa. I am a child who sees this, it is both racism and Islamophobia. Azeem Rafiq would not have had red wine in his throat if he was not a Muslim. This action happened because of Islamophobia and racism, ”Um E Aymen said.
Huda said discrimination can also exist within minority communities. “I believe Muslims live worse than non-Muslims of color. As Islam is often associated with suicide bombers and terrorists, Muslim women suffer because of this stereotype. As a black Muslim, I have experienced the isolation of black communities, in addition to non-Muslims and people of color. “
Following Rafiq’s testimony, more than 1,000 people came forward to report discrimination in cricket to the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC).