Chants of “Islamophobia no way—Muslim people here to stay” rang out in front of the McDonald’s on Seven Sisters Road in north London on Saturday. A security guard at the store had told a Muslim woman student to remove her hijab last week.
Around 50 people, mainly Muslim women, joined the protest organised by the Islington Stand Up To Racism group.
Nafisa told Socialist Worker, “This is what we face every day. They say we’re terrorising the country but they’re the ones terrorising us.
“I’m a care worker, we do the hard work, but they don’t want to see us in the streets with our hijabs.
“Now they don’t want to allow us to buy food.”
The manager and security guards came out of the store but were heckled back inside by the Muslim women.
After the incident a friend of the student posted footage of the security guard confronting her to Twitter. McDonald’s has since apologised.
Rakhia Ismail is a Labour councillor for the local Holloway area. “You hear stories in the Muslim community about things like this but I was shocked when I saw the video,” she told Socialist Worker.
“If there wasn’t a video clip then people would just think that it’s another Muslim complaining.”
She added, “If they don’t want our hijabs then we shouldn’t give them our money.”
Activists at the protest demanded that McDonald’s guarantee that it will instruct managers to make sure an incident like this cannot happen again.
It is the result of the Islamophobia that’s pushed by the likes of Donald Trump, Theresa May and the racist right. As Ayan told Socialist Worker, “This is coming from the top, not the general population. They are normalising hate against Muslims.”
It is possible to push back against the scapegoating of Muslims—and challenge the racist stereotype of Muslim woman as “submissive”.
Rakhia said, “We’ve got to raise awareness about it like today and non Muslims are supporting us here.”
And Ayan said,“It’s time to speak up as a hijabi woman and more are feeling confident to do it.We’re not oppressed because of the hijab, we’re oppressed because of Islamophobia.
Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) wrapped up a month of meetings across Britain challenging Islamophobia last week.
The Islamophobia Awareness Month tour was organised with Muslim Engagement (Mend) and Development and other organisations.
Last week saw meetings at Brighton, Bristol University, Brixton in South London, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Queen Mary University of London.
Speakers slammed the spike in racist attacks as well as the far right’s attempts to cynically exploit the Tories’ racism to recruit to their ranks.
They also launched attacks at the government’s Prevent strategy which turns all Muslims into potential “extremism” suspects.
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