British Pakistanis Live with Negative Stereotypes

Since the London attacks of July 7th, British Muslims have had to live with the negative stereotypes the bombings generated. Because some of the bombers were of Asian origin, it has been doubly difficult for young Pakistani Muslims.

Mid-day prayers for Akil Raja and his uncle Arif.  Like many of Britain's young, second-generation Pakistanis, Akil has been disheartened by the negative stereotypes toward Muslims that have intensified in Britain since the “7/7” bombings, as they are called here.

"Now since 7/7 I think it is really more difficult in a sense that people don't trust us, I suppose,” Akil told us. “They think that all Muslims are terrorist or all extremists where as you get the few that are but the majority of Muslims are not."

Pakistani immigration to Britain began in the 1950s as more and more factory workers were needed in cities like Manchester and Birmingham.  Most planned to return to Pakistan after making enough money here.  But as their numbers continued to increase in the 60s and 70s many stayed. 

Their children became British citizens and large Pakistani communities like the one in Ealing, a suburb of London, began to spring up all over the country.  Akil is quick to point out that real integration, even for second generation Pakistanis, has been difficult because of religious and cultural differences.

"We can't really integrate with society in general.  Because we can’t drink of course, so we can’t really socialize.  The interaction with the Western life is limited really," he said.

Akil spent the first eight years of his life in Pakistan.  He is now 21, attending university, and a British citizen.

"First, I am Muslim.  Because my religion doesn't let me accept any nationality accept for Islam.  Because Islam is a nation really." 

Akil says the 7/7 bombings have only widened the divisions that already exist in British society, making integration even more difficult.

"It has taken us back twenty-fold really.  We have gone back to were we have started from.  I think we have to really regain the initiative and build up something that is really damaged." 

Akil's friend Kamran Khan agrees.  He is 20-years-old and is also attending university.

"I think now we have become the object of ‘the stare,’ says Kamran. “If it is predominantly white people that we walk past, you do get the look. You know, ‘He is Asian and should we be worried?’  Which is understandable because it was Asians who did the 7/7 attacks.

Both Akil And Khamran say the Muslim faith has been grossly misrepresented by both the actions of the 7/7 bombers and the media backlash that has taken place after the attacks.  They say there is much work to be done to overcome the stereotype that all Muslims are extremists.

Says Akil, "I suppose there needs to be more information about Islam really.  People need to interact with Muslims and we need to interact with the English or the Western people.  Yet we don't see that because our parents or grandparents tend to be backwards and there is a language barrier as well."

They say they are also opposed to Britain's new Anti-Terrorism Act, which gives broad powers to police to arrest anyone who is "known or believed to be involved in terrorist acts."

"These anti-terrorism laws, I mean, I have know Muslim brothers that are in prison at the moment.  Because of the 7/7 situation they were sentenced for something to do with ‘the cause of justice.’  They got sentenced for months or something like that, which is ridiculous because they had nothing to do with it," Akil said.

Akil and Kamran want to finish their studies and continue to live in Britain.  But Akil says that if things get too hostile toward Muslims, he will leave Britain, and find a country where he can practice his faith in peace. 

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs