IAM2017 ‘Sheffield Against Islamophobia’ Event
Categories: Past Event Articles
Thursday December 14 2017
“It’s far easier to push for austerity using the race card,” said Naila Ashraf from Stand Up To Racism as she spoke to crowd of attentive listeners in Sheffield at the MEND event on Saturday, November 25.
The Sheffield-MEND working group organized this event as part of IAM2017. “With this event, we wanted to define Islamophobia. It’s such a politically significant word today, yet many of us are unaware of what exactly Islamophobia makes reference to,” said the Sheffield vice-chair. The speakers of the event defined Islamophobia through their personal testimonials, giving account of their anxieties and experiences with implicit and explicit forms of Islamophobia.
Ashraf spoke of being victim to a physical attack during which she was accused of not belonging to England. I was born here, I identify as British and I was told I don’t have a right to be here, she lamented. She also elaborated the subject of how Islamophobia legitimates neoliberal economic policies, increased immigration control and military intervention in Muslim majority countries.
Nima Hersi, long-time Sheffield resident, also offered a testimony to the growing climate of Islamophobia in Sheffield. She gave account of the micro-aggressions like cold stares, hard looks, pointed comments that make up the everyday lives of visible Muslim such as herself—a hijab wearing woman. She spoke of being targeted by racial slurs such as “ninja” and “rag-head” and the view that the UK is being swarmed by Muslims. “He got in my face and said THERE ARE MUSLIMS EVERY WHERE”, she narrated. She also described feeling a change in the air after the Manchester bombings, where the day after the event she was honked at multiple times as she was waiting for her bus and shown aggressive fists.
The program concluded with a “Causes and Cures” presentation by Shahab Adris, the regional manager of MEND. Overall the event appeared beneficial to the attendees and moved anti-islamophobia campaigning towards the direction of increased awareness and understanding.