News

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.
Comments
     
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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs