More young Muslims in Britain live in fear says activist

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SHAFAQNA – An increasing number of young Muslims are seeking advice because they are concerned about Islamophobia, a London-based charity told Shafaqna.

Each year up to 3,000 people aged between nine and 25 contact the Muslim Youth Helpline by phone, text or email.

Issues include peer pressure, mental health, relationships, sexuality and cultural identity.

Anira Khokhar, the helpline’s fundraising and marketing manager explained that a growing number of callers are being shunned by classmates and friends amid a “rise in Islamophobia”.

“For a lot of young Muslims growing up in this country it’s very difficult to discuss issues such as relationships, western society, homosexuality or abortions. You have young people who possibly have issues around forced marriages, who are on the edge. Many find it very difficult to talk to their parents, their mosque or external agencies. In their own communities they feel misunderstood or are worried about confidentiality. With external agencies, there is fear they will call the police,” she told Shafaqna.

“There’s been issues around young people in England going to Syria, we’ve seen grooming issues, and attacks on Muslims, where a girl’s headscarf is pulled off. We have seen an increase in a lot of callers saying, ‘Where do we belong, who do we talk to?’

“They say they watch what is happening on the news and don’t know whether they feel British or not now.

“There’s a rise in Islamophobia, where people say their friends are judging them or have stopped talking to them. There’s issues around culture clash and inter-generational issues, as well as gender bias.

“A lot of the issues are based around the fact that the Government doesn’t seem to understand.” The helpline is “non-judgmental and non-religious”, with non-Muslim callers welcome.

The charity now hopes to expand from 30 volunteers to 50 this year.

To contact the helpline, you can phone 0808 808 2008, text 07860 022811 or email help@myh.org.uk

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