Written by Mariya Hussain, Vice President for Education (Arts and Sciences)
With Brexit and the election of Donald Trump across the pond in the US, hate crimes appear to be increasing in number.
It is important to note that the likes of racism and Islamophobia have existed long before current events, but they are being compounded by recent societal and political shifts. On and around our campuses I have been hearing of an increasing number of Islamophobic incidents. Students, particularly Muslim women students, have faced abuse from students and members of the public as they go about their day.
I myself have faced attacks consistently, both verbal and physical, over the past few months, with the latest occurring as I waited at the bus stop outside Strand campus when two men stood behind me began to make jibes such directed towards me such as “Are we going to get blown up?”. Incidents like this really shake your confidence, although with time you can learn to look those being abusive in the eye and talk back to them, there is always the threat of an attack. It plays on your mind, and this threat along with the rhetoric espoused by politicians and the media, can push down on a person.
Further to this, it is always incredibly isolating and disappointing to see a lack of support from bystanders. So many stories are set against a backdrop of silent bystanders, of people who do not look, do not speak and do not support when someone is facing physical or verbal abuse, and I urge anyone who’s sees or hears someone facing Islamophobic abuse, or indeed abuse of any kind, to support the victim. On our campuses islamophobia is experienced in classrooms, hallways and the streets around our buildings; it, along with all forms of discriminatory abuse, will not be tolerated.
We must come together as a student body and as a college community to ensure that all students feel safe and that incidents of discrimination do not go unnoticed. This month is Islamophobia Awareness Month. There are a host of events happening up and down the country and KCLSU will be co-hosting an event on November 29th with the Intersectional Feminist Society and the KCL Islamic Society titled Campaign of Hate: Brexit, Islamophobia and Muslim Women. Keep an eye on our social media feeds for updates and the event page. If you need any support then you can always contact the KCLSU Advice service at kclsu.org/advice.