Muslims feel like 'Jews of Europe'

Minister's shock warning on rise of anti-Islamic prejudice

Britain's first Muslim minister has attacked the growing culture of hostility against Muslims in the United Kingdom, saying that many feel targeted like "the Jews of Europe".

Shahid Malik, who was appointed as a minister in the Department for International Development (Dfid) by Gordon Brown last summer, said it has become legitimate to target Muslims in the media and society at large in a way that would be unacceptable for any other minority.

Mr Malik made clear that he was not equating the situation with the Holocaust but warned that many British Muslims now felt like "aliens in their own country". He said he himself had been the target of a string of racist incidents, including the firebombing of his family car and an attempt to run him down at a petrol station.

"I think most people would agree that if you ask Muslims today what do they feel like, they feel like the Jews of Europe," he said. "I don't mean to equate that with the Holocaust but in the way that it was legitimate almost – and still is in some parts – to target Jews, many Muslims would say that we feel the exact same way.

"Somehow there's a message out there that it's OK to target people as long as it's Muslims. And you don't have to worry about the facts, and people will turn a blind eye."

The claims are made in an interview to be broadcast on Monday in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme to coincide with the third anniversary of the London bombings of 7 July.

A poll to accompany the documentary highlights the growing polarisation of opinion among Britain's 1.6 million Muslims, who say they have suffered a marked increase in hostility since the London bombings.

The ICM survey found that 51 per cent of Britons blame Islam to some degree for the 2005 attacks while more than a quarter of Muslims now believe Islamic values are not compatible with British values. While 90 per cent of Muslims said they felt attached to Britain, eight out of 10 said they felt there was more religious prejudice against their faith since the July bombings.

The Dispatches film, "It Shouldn't Happen to a Muslim", presented by the writer and broadcaster Peter Oborne, examines claims that negative attitudes to Muslims have become legitimised by think-tanks and newspaper commentators, who use language that is now being parroted by the far right.

Mr Malik, who narrowly escaped serious injury when a car was driven at him at a petrol station in his home town of Burnley in 2002, said he regularly receives anti-Muslim hate mail at his constituency office in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, which has the highest BNP vote in the country and was home to Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the suicide attackers who killed 52 people in London in 2005.

The MP said the negative portrayal of Muslims in the media, including a story run by several national newspapers in December last year wrongly stating that staff in the Dewsbury and District Hospital had been ordered to turn the beds of Muslim patients towards Mecca five times a day, was a key example of how his co-religionists were being alienated from the mainstream.

He said: "It's almost as if you don't have to check your facts when it comes to certain people, and you can just run with those stories. It makes Muslims feel like aliens in their own country. At a time when we want to engage with Muslims, actually the opposite happens."

The Dispatches programme also speaks to Andy Hayman, the former Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner who was Britain's most senior anti-terrorism officer until he resigned last December. Mr Hayman, who was criticised for failing to tell senior Scotland Yard officers that an innocent man, Jean Charles de Menezes, had been shot dead after being mistaken for a suicide bomber, is asked why he thinks it is important to engage with Muslims expressing extreme views.

Mr Hayman said: "Because we're tackling head on the people that we feel are at the heartbeat of this whole complex agenda. Not to have a dialogue with them would seem that we are apprehensive, we're scared, we're frightened... So even if it's appeasement in some quarters, that is still a conversation that is not being had and needs to be had."

Mr Malik's comments were backed by Simon Woolley, a member of the Government's task force on race equality, and co-founder of Operation Black Vote. He said: "On an almost daily basis, there is rampant Islamophobia in this country, the effect of which is not for our Muslim community to get closer to a sense of Britishness but to feel further away from a feeling of belonging in British society."

Click here to have your say

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform