MUSLIMS are worried about a series of Islamophobic incidents that have occurred in Cardiff since the Paris terrorist attacks.
The incidents were mainly verbal abuse on public transport and are thought to be part of a backlash against Muslims in reaction to the attacks.
The concerns were raised at the official launch of the first MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development) branch in Cardiff which included speeches, an exhibition and the start of an Islamophobia Awareness Month (which was planned before the Paris attacks).
Sahar Al-Faifi, the Chair of MEND in Cardiff, spoke about her experiences in the city of people threatening to hit her and trying to take off her veil.
Ms Al-Faifi said: “I’ve lost count of the amount of verbal abuse I’ve received. I stopped reporting them because I would spend half my time in the police station.
“I don’t know what life is like without Islamophobia.”
Ms Al-Faifi, a scientist at Heath hospital, said that two weeks ago a patient called her a “terrorist” and told her “do not cut off my head you ISIS”.
Despite this, Ms Al-Faifi called for Muslim women to report incidents of abuse, as they are the main targets of Islamophobia due to visible signs of their religion, such as the Hijab and Niqab.
Nevertheless, Ms Al-Faifi, said there is hope in Cardiff. She said: “I love Cardiff, we celebrate diversity and multiculturalism. I want to be here forever.
“Cardiff is the last place that you find these abuses and I don’t want any racism.”
Azad Ali, MEND’s head of Community Development and Engagement said that there is a more “open-minded” society in Wales than in England.
Mr Ali said: “If you’re Welsh, you’re Welsh.
“The media in England are far more right wing and have an ‘us vs them’ approach whereas the Welsh media gives both sides of the story.”
Mr Ali said that he wanted the event to be a launchpad for future activities in Wales.
Mr Ali also said that MEND is encouraging Mosques to promote political participation among their worshippers and ensure that Muslims vote.
The expectation of Muslims to apologise for terrorist attacks was also a subject of discussion at the launch.
Mr Ali said: “I think this expectation is quite colonial, racist and Islamophobic. It disempowers an ethnic group and makes them feel guilty for other peoples crimes.”
Ms Al-Faifi echoed this sentiment. She said: “I’m not related to this brutal terrorist group yet I have to apologise for their actions most of the time.
“You wouldn’t ask Christians to apologise for the KKK in America yet Muslims have to apologise for ISIS all the time, it’s unfortunate and sad.”
Those wishing to get involved with MEND in Cardiff can follow them on Twitter @mendcommunity or visit their website: mend.org.uk.