BRITISH converts to Islam are often left feeling like “enemies” of their families and wider society because of destructive stereotypes in the media, according to a new study published yesterday.
A group of 50 men of various ages and backgrounds were questioned by academics from Cambridge University’s Centre of Islamic Studies about becoming new Muslims.
Abdul Maalik Taylor, who runs Islamic-themed London tours, said his family physically and emotionally abused him for converting from Hinduism 20 years ago.
“If there are successful Muslim converts who have contributed to society and to Britain, they won’t get highlighted by the media,” he added.
Adrian Heath said he was “shocked” as “a white man in modern Britain” to have been ostracised and mocked by relatives and colleagues.
His “parents took it hard” after he was “inadvertently exposed” as a convert and refused to attend his wedding.
Mr Heath said: “I was ridiculed for my prayer times and to my face by people who had education and should have known better.”
Those who converted in prison are at higher risk of reoffending because of a lack of support on release, according to the study.
Centre of Islamic Studies director Professor Yasir Suleiman said that with “general apathy towards faith” in Britain, many converts are seen as “eccentrics, misfits, outcasts and rebels.”
They are also seen as “renegades, traitors or enemies of a fifth column who have turned their back on their original culture,” he added, and would benefit from help by convert-specific organisations.
Some converts were approached to work as British security services informants, the study said.