Case Study

Young people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage

by | Nov 3, 2021

We spoke to a group of young people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage from across the England this summer about the barriers they face in their journey to work.  

Among other issues, several young people spoke about how Islamophobia had a profound impact on their self-esteem and school experience. Young people were put on the spot and asked to defend their beliefs in school. This in turn increased anxiety, fear and reticence to enter white majority spaces in later life, such as university or the workplace.   

” I was one of the few Muslims in the class so whenever a topic came up Jihad or something, I would get every single face looking at me in the class. The teacher would then expect me to know the answer and be the representative of Muslims”

“Prevent, it’s called Prevent, that ruined my life. Every time we had a lesson about Prevent, everyone would call me terrorist. That’s when it got worse and it’s supposed to be helping somehow.” 

“I’ve routinely experienced racism and Islamophobia, like being called the P-word and being made fun of because of our religion, ever since I was young.  

I think the most disheartening part about that was that teachers never did anything about it and I was told to grow a thick skin and it wasn’t addressed properly.” 

“It’s a little bit scary when you go to somewhere like my university. Most people who go there, 87% or something were White so it’s really scary because they don’t know how they’re going to treat you.” 

Having gathered young people’s perspectives and experiences we constructed a story (causal loop) about how islamophobia is reinforced and can affect young Muslims access to opportunities.    

Islamophobia increases intolerance, prejudice, hostility towards groups and communities perceived as Muslim. This hostility reduces positive interactions between different Muslims and majorities in society, which tends to subtly exclude and decrease opportunities for young Muslims. Where there are few young Muslims in certain spaces, they continue to be and feel ‘othered’. Continued othering and a lack of positive interactions further limits mainstream awareness and understanding of cultural diversity and Islam and maintains Islamophobia.

Link to the loop: https://embed.kumu.io/39d678574b3a19e716a8e368a93d88f1