In Wales, Great Britain, between 2016-17, religious hate crime increased by 35% and teachers reported an increase in incidents of racism. “I’ve spoken to young Muslims from across Wales who’ve told me that they’re often scared in their communities, that they’ve directly experienced abuse at school, and that they’re tired of the way Islam is often portrayed by the media, and the effect this has on the views of their non-Muslim peers,” says Sally Holland of The Children’s Commissioner for Wales.
A high school student named Shutha, 15, has directly been affected by anti-Muslim sentiments at school. “Stuff like ‘go back to your country’, stuff about what’s on my head without knowing necessarily what it’s for…I used to think it was people being horrible but as I grew older I realised that people aren’t really educated on the topic of Islam, the topic of what we do in our religion, why we do it and why we dress a certain way, why our beliefs are a certain way. And I feel like if people get more educated on that, there’ll be less Islamophobia, there’ll be just less hate in general.”
Anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card says that some teachers have reached out for guidance on how to help their students when dealing with xenophobic incidents or with help establishing workshops. Sunil Patel, campaign manager, comments, “The number of inquiries our charity has received has tripled compared to the same period last year.”
Ms Holland says she recognizes teachers could be hesitant about tackling these sensitive issues. “We know teachers can sometimes feel unsure and nervous about delivering lessons on topics like this, and I hope this resource gives teachers the necessary guidance and support.”