Personal Report: How Can I Live Somewhere That I Don’t Feel Safe?

By Aisha Hassim, age 13

The hate and discrimination faced by Muslim people across the world continues to be an issue. Islamophobia manifests itself in many ways, from nasty jokes to laws restricting religious practices. The problems we face daily are not to be taken lightly.

As a Muslim girl from South Africa who has always dreamed of living in Paris, the Islamophobia which exists in many European countries is disheartening. With countries like France, Belgium and the U.K. enforcing discrimination against Muslim people while maintaining the façade of a more advanced and cultured society, the acceptance of such behavior becoming normalized and even encouraged is disgusting. Many people like me believe that Europe offers opportunity, but with rising Islamophobia, many don’t feel safe living in Europe. The European Islamophobia Report 2021 found that anti-Muslim sentiment is still as pressing a problem across the continent as it was in previous years. It also claims that “the main spots of anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobic incidents” are France and the U.K. 

Dealing with discrimination from individuals is one thing, but having laws passed that directly affect your freedom of religion takes the hurt to another level. Since the passing of France’s “anti-separatism law” in 2021, which has effectively allowed the government to openly target Muslims and Islamic organizations, there have been almost 23 reported closures of mosques around the country. With the banning of hijabs from many public spaces, women are facing the brunt of this discrimination. In March this year, the French Supreme Court ruled it legal to ban headscarves and other religious symbols from courtrooms. Hiba Latreche, a French Muslim law student and activist for the civil liberties of young Muslim women, told CNN that she is being forced to choose between her career or her faith. With the “normalization of Islamophobia, we directly face the consequences,” said Latreche.

While many people across the world have protested what’s happening in Europe, the fact that many of these acts of discrimination are instiltutionalized is the problem. Believing that creating such laws would be deemed acceptable is the mindset that allows Islamophobia to thrive within our societies. The report warns that countries like France are still “investing less in the fight against Islamophobia, and more into normalizing Islamophobia.” 

In this day and age, one would expect inclusivity within a so-called progressive country, but unfortunately Muslims are still a largely marginalized group, especially in France. The systemic Islamophobia is blatant.

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