‘I know I’m not really Welsh’: Living with Islamophobia in Wales

Samia Egeh has always called Wales home, yet she doesn’t feel Welsh, or British.

Despite living in Cardiff, home to one of the UK’s oldest BAME communities, she is forced to live with a daily reality: islamophobia.

“Islamophobia certainly does exist,” Samia told ITV Wales.

“It really is real and it’s not Muslims thinking it does exist, or that we have some sort of chip on our shoulder. 

“It happens and it happens every day.”

According to the latest data from the UK Home Office, nearly half of all hate crime victims in England and Wales in the year ending March 2021 were Muslims.

Up to 45% of the 6,377 religious hate crimes recorded during the period were committed against Muslims, compared to 22% against Jewish people, the second most targeted religious group.

Black, Muslim and female

“I’m black, I’m a Muslim and I’m female, so I have triple discrimination. 

“But we are not victims, it’s really important that people are aware that we are not just talking for the sake of talking. 

“And I’m not really British, this is the reality. 

“Wherever I go, people cannot pronounce my name, there’s no effort to pronounce my name, people will ask how long have I been here?”

An intergenerational impact

November has been Islamophobia awareness month, and campaigners in Wales say there is a long way to go to redress the impact that discrimination towards Muslims has had for generations.

Dr Abdul Azim, from the Muslim Council of Wales, told ITV Wales: “Muslims are the most discriminated minority when it comes to job applications.

“Something like that has a generational impact. It impacts people’s livelihoods, their family, their children, and it can have a knock-on effect for many years. 

“The impact is everywhere, from the individual and the fear and anxiety they encounter to the communities trapped in a cycle of deprivation, disadvantage and poverty.”

Working in communities, teaching in schools

The new statue of Betty Campbell in Cardiff has been heralded as a watershed moment for BAME and women's history in Wales Credit: PA

Natasha Asghar, Wales’ first female BAME Senedd Member, believes how we educate children will be vital to tackling inter-generational discrimination.

“When it comes to tackling any sort of hatred, it is really important that the government works with the police, local charities, community leaders, religious leaders and schools,” she said.

“It’s really important to educate people, but more importantly children, because they are going to grow up to become the future. 

“It is really important that diversity, inclusion and living in a harmonious society is taught to children.”