Anger in UK as Muslim Detained for 'Wearing Too Many Clothes' But Not All Muslims Were Critical.

Published July 9th, 2017 - 01:04 GMT
A video of a British Muslim man being handcuffed and searched after a white woman accused him of “wearing too many layers of clothes” has gone viral online (Facebook)
A video of a British Muslim man being handcuffed and searched after a white woman accused him of “wearing too many layers of clothes” has gone viral online (Facebook)

A video of a British Muslim man being handcuffed and searched after a woman accused him of “wearing too many layers of clothes” has gone viral online.

The Facebook page “Documenting Oppression Against Muslims” shared the footage on Friday.

According to the unnamed man’s statement shared by the page, “I was rushing to Jummah Salat [Friday prayers] and, when I was near the Masjid all of a sudden the police come and put hand cuffs on me”

“The women the undercover police officer said I was wearing too many clothes on but I was on wear two layers of clothes [sic]”

“The police falsely accused me of carrying a weapon and so on and so forth they searched me and found nothing as usual and then they took my date of birth address and name and they let me go.”

The six-minute clip, captioned “#WearingClothesWhileMuslim, has so-far garnered 5.6 million views and been shared more than 77,000 times.

Many in the UK have expressed anger at what they saw as unfair police treatment of this man because of his religion and appearance.

One man wrote on Facebook “Where are we going to with this hatred? It is disintegeration, isolation, radicalisation, discrimination, stereotyping, racial, and targetting [sic].

I feel ashamed of our Police services. It is a joke in here. How can the sergs, Inspectors, can have this in their boroughs. You all need another training.”

Another asked “What exactly is right about racial profiling and discrimination of this sort?” 

Some praised him for staying calm while being questioned, writing: "Imagine having this much composure while being cuffed and detained on your way to mosque for "wearing too many layers". What a patient man."

The overwhelming online response to the incident from British Muslims and non-Muslims was of anger and a sense of injustice.

As the clip spread to the Arab world, however, some more surprising attitudes emerged.

In fact, within a Muslim-majority nation where criticism of alleged discrimination against Muslims might be taken for granted, there was a certain degree of support for the British police’s actions.

Latif Yahia, Iraqi-born author and supposed body-double of Saddam Hussein’s son, wrote on his Facebook page that this was "The real face of Great Britain!! Stopping a #Muslim in the middle of the streets of #London after a woman complained about him because he was wearing too many clothes??"

"Right now in the West if you want to make a case against a person you only have to say that he is #Arab or Muslim and the charge of #Terrorism will come automatically..." he continued.

"You occupy our countries and plunder our wealth and then you treat us like this?? But we deserve this and more because #ArabLeaders and #MuslimLeaders are the agents of these countries."

However, a number of the comments on Yahia's post were much more positive about the police's behavior.

A vest, a t-shirt and a jacket in summer, and a bag and a beard: of course they'll stop him, you'd think from looking at him he has a bomb.

Yeah, and what's going on with these clothes and beard? As a Muslim when I see that appearance, firstly I despise him and secondly I report him. You're in a Western country, why are you sporting Wahhabi clothes and beard?

Haha, his face looks like a terrorist and his clothes inspire fear. If I saw him in Iraq I would report him because this jacket looks like it has a bomb in it. They didn't do anything to him, they just searched him. I mean, why is he wearing these clothes - doesn't he have a brain in his head? "God is merciful towards those who do not bring slander on themselves" [a saying of the Prophet]

It is an oft-repeated statistic that Muslims are by far the greatest targets for terror worldwide. Most recently, it was asserted in a study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a US-based research and education center. 

The research revealed that "in the Middle East, Muslims are the most likely victims of both terrorism and counterterrorism efforts," START Executive Director William Braniff told ABC News. 

Scores of Iraqis have been killed in Daesh bombings in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities this year - not to mention tens of thousands killed, injured or displaced by Daesh in Mosul and elsewhere in the north of the country.

It is maybe not surprising, then, that some Iraqis support a degree of suspicion towards those whose appearance suggests religious conservatism.

That does not take away from, however, the fact that innocent Muslims are often targets in the West, both for over-zealous policing, as in this case, and for Islamophobic attacks.

Responding to this incident, Islamophobia monitoring organization Tell MAMA wrote on its website: 

"We understand the real risk to us all from extremism and violent extremism. We have raised our voices time and time again against these threats, whether they be far right or Daesh influenced." 

"But the fears of one woman, who was the person being the most challenging in this video, cannot just be left unchecked as she walks off and the individual going to pray is left feeling confused and frightened by the experience."

"The fight against extremism and violent extremism needs to be intelligence led."

"It needs to be based on evidence and on ensuring that sections of populations do not feel marginalised. Such incidents merely fracture trust between communities and we understand the difficulties in the fight against terrorism, but this does not help."

London's police reported a five-fold increase in Islamophobic hate crimes following the London Bridge attack earlier this year, and Manchester saw a similar spike in Islamophobic incidents following the arena bombing, according to Tell MAMA.

On June 19, a far-right terrorist drove his van into a group of Muslims returning from prayers at a mosque in London, injuring 8. Muslim cousins were also the targets of an acid attack in the city last month.

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