“Come back here before I rip your veil off!” Muslim women’s experiences of Islamophobia and hate crimes in Malmö

University essay from Malmö högskola/Hälsa och samhälle

Abstract: Background: Veiled Muslim women are particularly vulnerable to hate crime vic-timization. This is both due to the visibility of the veil and to Islamophobic stereo-types. Islamophobic hate crimes target a central part of these women’s identity and have the potential to affect both actual and potential victims in a multitude of ways. However, research on this particular group is limited, especially in Sweden. Aim: The aim was to explore how Islamophobic hate crimes are experienced by veiled Muslim women in Malmö. Method: Eight veiled Muslim women were re-cruited through Muslim associations in Malmö and interviewed through focus group interviews and individual interviews. Three of the women wrote diaries about their experiences. The interview data was analysed through thematic analy-sis. Results: Four themes were identified in the analysis: a) Islamophobia is a part of veiled Muslim women’s everyday lives and is experienced both in public places and in formal settings, b) experiences of Islamophobia restrict the women’s lives, both through limiting their behaviours and through creating geographical boundaries in the city, c) awareness of Islamophobic hate crime against other Muslim women induces a feeling of “if it can happen to her, it can happen to me too”, finally, d) international and political issues increase Islamophobia toward these women. Discussion: Islamophobia permeates the lives of veiled Muslim women across a multitude of arenas. Due to fear of victimization, Islamophobia and hate crimes threaten Muslim women’s liberty in their day-to-day lives. Thus, there is a need for authorities across a variety of domains to be aware of these women’s vulnerable position in society and work towards providing the support veiled Muslim women need.

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