More than half of Muslims in the UK say they have not worn a headscarf or veil in public in the past year, and one in five say they would not want to if given the chance.
In a poll for The Times, more than two-thirds of Muslims surveyed said they believed they were being “harassed” by society for their faith, with half saying they felt unsafe in public.
“It is very disturbing to see a community so divided on issues like wearing a veil, wearing a head scarf, or wearing a burqa, said Sarah Javid, shadow minister for Muslims and minorities.”
The Muslim community is an important part of our society and they should be treated with respect and not being singled out for discrimination.
“But the way the Government has dealt with the issue has been deeply divisive, with people being told they can’t wear their headscarves in the shops, the bus, the tube and the airport.”
This is unacceptable.
It is the height of ignorance.
“It doesn’t make sense for the Government to take this seriously if they want to be seen as being in touch with British Muslims and their communities.”
The poll of 5,000 people, carried out by YouGov, found that while a majority of Muslims agreed that wearing a hijab was a Muslim religious obligation, only a third of Muslims believed wearing a niqaab, a veil that covers the face, was a fundamental right.
In the past, when Muslims were asked to choose between wearing a traditional Islamic dress or the niftah, only 13 per cent of Muslims said the nikah, while 57 per cent said the veil was a part of the traditional Islamic faith.
“What I find most troubling is that there is such a lack of understanding about the importance of wearing a full veil and about the impact it can have on Muslim women,” said the Conservative MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who chairs the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.
“We want to ensure that our communities feel safe, and that we understand their concerns.
Muslims are an important component of our communities and we should not be afraid of them.”
The survey also found that one in six Muslim women and girls in the country were unemployed, with two-fifths saying they had been unable to find a job.
A total of 22 per cent thought it was “unacceptable” that Muslim women were not allowed to work, while another 24 per cent were “very” or “somewhat” uncomfortable with the idea.
The majority of women and Muslim men agreed that there were a number of things Muslims could do to contribute to society.
“If I’m Muslim, I know that we have to contribute towards society in some way.
If I have to buy food from the supermarket, I want to buy it in a Muslim shop, I would prefer that,” said a Muslim woman in Birmingham.”
My husband has never told me that I have been a good Muslim woman.
He thinks I’m too old, too weak and too stupid to be a good wife and mother.”
But only 26 per cent agreed that they wanted to make a difference in the community.
In Birmingham, a woman called Mary had no problems with the fact that the majority of people she spoke to were not religious.
“They are the people who keep me safe and I feel very safe here,” she said.
“I feel like I am a normal person.
It doesn’t feel like it is being attacked and that I’m being judged.”
The figures show that while many Muslim women feel like their faith is under attack in society, many feel they are not treated fairly.
“For me, the hijab has always been a symbol of empowerment, it has always represented my faith and that’s why I wear it,” said Mary.
“However, I feel that the hijab is not a part and parcel of who I am as a Muslim.
They are not seen as something that I need to conform to or adhere to.
When I wear the hijab, I’m not wearing it to look like a Muslim, it’s just a symbol that I wear.”
Muslim women in Britain are also more likely to have been raped or sexually assaulted.
More than half (52 per cent) of Muslim women polled in The Times’ poll said they had experienced sexual assault while in the workplace, compared with less than one in 10 for men.
The survey found that most Muslims surveyed felt that they were under pressure to conform, with more than half saying there was pressure to wear the veil in a workplace or public place.
“Muslim women are under the scrutiny of society to conform,” said one Muslim woman, who asked not to be named.
“They are being pushed to conform.
They have to make sure that their looks are a little more beautiful.”
The report also found many Muslim men felt they were not treated equally by society, and felt they had to work harder to fit in.
“Many Muslim men feel