What do the terms mean?

  • Islamophobia: dislike or prejudice against Muslims or Islam.
  • Harassment: is unwanted conduct that is related to a protected characteristic (age, sex, disability, gender identity, race, religion or belief or sexual orientation) or unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. It has the purpose or the effect of violating someone’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. Harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

Islamophobic harassment continues to be prevalent due to the political climate around the world. Something like the run-up to the Brexit vote can cause a flare up of Islamophobic sentiment and this has been documented by the Home Office.

What can you do?

While there is considerable information on training sessions about how to identify discrimination, harassment, bullying and hate crime, there is less advice on practical steps you can take when it when it happens.

A recommended strategy is based on the psychological concept of non-complementary behaviour. this means displaying the opposite conduct of another person’s. If someone is being aggressive toward another person, you should adopt a non-confrontational behaviour to hopefully diffuse the situation.

Saffiyah Khan and EDL protester,Birmingham, April 2017

Saffiyah Khan and EDL protester, Birmingham, April 2017


1) Always be mindful of your safety and those around you.

2) Contact the police as soon as you can.

3) Do not, in any way, interact with the attacker. You must absolutely ignore them and focus entirely on the person being attacked.

4) Please make sure to always respect the wishes of the person you’re helping: whether they want you to leave quickly afterwards, or not.

The image below was developed by an artist called Maeril due to the rise in Islamphobic harassment in public spaces in France. It is based on the psychological strategy of non-complementary behaviour and can be used for other forms of harassment too.

What to do if you are witnessing Islamophobic harassment?

What to do if you are witnessing Islamophobic harassment?