Young Muslims On Trial

A new report by Maslaha, funded by Barrow Cadbury, exploring the impact of Islamophobia on criminal justice decision-making and young Muslims

A new report by Maslaha, funded by Barrow Cadbury, exploring the impact of Islamophobia on criminal justice decision-making and young Muslims

The report was funded by Barrow Cadbury Trust as part of the work of its Transition to Adulthood (T2A) programme and the Young Review

Muslim Girls Fence

A campaign to challenge misperceptions of Muslim women and make fencing inclusive to young people of all backgrounds

A campaign to challenge misperceptions of Muslim women and make fencing inclusive to young people of all backgrounds

Young male offenders

Points from the first focus group:

On how it starts:

‘People are out because they've got nothing to do at home. If you live in a three bedroom house, mum’s watching the TV downstairs, someone else watching TV upstairs. If you’re out all day there’s peer pressure. You want to prove yourself to the people you're having around with. To get yourself out there, get in the hierarchy within your own group of friends. It’s reputation.’

‘Everyone’s got that feeling inside they don’t wanna go to prison. Who wants to go to prison? No one. 75% of our group been in prison.’

‘Now we can’t find a job, people end up lying to their parents saying they’re working, so they need to do something to keep busy, stay out all day. Probably drug dealing, working on the streets to take money home. If you’re not outside and you’re in here (in the youth centre), you can’t do drug dealing or fighting, you’ll probably be doing something more active. Here you’re more safer. Outside, people approach you with a business proposition, you think you can make some money. Here you won’t be feeling that.’

‘You can get a three year guaranteed income from university students (looking for drugs). It’s like you’re your own boss. Where as if you’re working in retail, you gotta get up, get shouted at by the boss everyday. But if that income stops, you’re probably gonna get on something bigger to get something quicker. You’re used to having money; it’s a millionaires life innit.’


On the moment you realise you’re going to be sent to prison:

‘When you’re arrested, you’re just at home. It’s a waiting game. The only way you realise is when you’re in, before that you think yeh I got away, slid through it. As long as you choose the wrong people you’re going to do the wrong things. If you got good people around you you’re gonna be doing good things. This is normal: selling drugs, fighting in gangs. When the police call you trouble that’s when you fight back. Are we supposed to life on benefits for the rest of our lives? Everyone sees these rappers, think how they got rich by selling drugs. He’s just singing about that. People don’t understand he’s just singing about it, he’s probably making millions from one record.’


On prison:

‘People generally think they’re not gonna get caught. They do it out of boredom, thrill seeking. For the adrenalin rush. There’s a percentage in your head – 50% I ain’t gonna get caught. You’re gonna take the risk to see the outcome, it’s like starting up a business. You don’t know how it’s gonna end up, you take that change. Once you go to prison and come out you realise it’s not worth the risk.’

‘There’s so many different factors why you might end up in prison, there’s never just one reason.’


On reoffending:

‘Allow it right, it you been in prison you cause another crime you go back in. It becomes a lifestyle. You probably know more about the law than a lawyer. You know what’s gonna happen when you get caught, and you justify your act.’


On age:

‘It starts around age 11 or 12, year 6 or 7, the antisocial behaviour. It starts from the little things. You start bunking from year 7; when you’re younger you see other people doing it, older people. If you were to rewind, I’d go back to school, I’d be a boffin. There were people we’d hang around with, but they’d spare time for education.’

‘You start doing normal thing, playing football. Everyone got bored. In year nine or ten, something crazy, everyone started buying cars. And then it was just one crime after another.’

‘What else was there to do? You were always trying to cause a problem that’s more interesting. You even wanted to get chased by the police. It just gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and you get to know people from other areas.’

‘If you want to make people do a project you’ve got to catch them at a certain stage, or they’ll be like allow this. Around 11 or 12, that’s the age when they transfer from primary to secondary school. You got to preoccupy them with something else. Football training, boxing. A lot of kids these days, they’re on a hustle. My brother wanted me to buy him a phone. I said no, I didn’t have one until I was 14. He started getting these blackberry cases and buying them and selling them until he had enough and he said “I’m buying my own phone”. They’re always selling cookies and sweets in school. For that age it’s good they’re thinking about that already.’


On unemployment and job centres:

‘When you’re older, employment is on everyone’s mind. If you go to a job centre and they put ten people forward for a job, if you’ve got a criinal record 100% you’re not gonna get the job. Everyone’s gonna go back to their old roots, people need money to survive. They sell you a dream – you do six weeks training and all the paperwork and you’re guaranteed to get the job, but it doesn’t work. I’ve done so much training. We were doing some construction course, and we didn’t even get it cos the guy got done for fraud. If they get their name on a paper for training they’ll get money for it. But I don’t think it’s their fault, the system don’t work, they got too many people to help out.’

‘You need genuine people that really want to help someone. Sometimes you go, and there are people behind the desk that don’t really help. This one woman who really cared at probation, she really helped me. If I didn’t call her she’d call me. And she’d call up the person and explain my situation. This guy saw I needed a break.’


On role models:

There’s one guy in our family (group) – he was always going home, doing his work. He had time for us, and he had time for himself, his family. He got into Queen Mary with a first, and now he’s working for City Group. He’s cool still though. Out of all of us he’s done well. He’s his own person, he’s a smart guy. We knew him from a young age, we grew up together, we knew what he done. There was an organisation that used to bring people down here, social entrepreneurs. It was all good, but there’s no connection. The majority of the time it has to be someone you know.’

‘When you get advice, it’s better to go and meet someone you know. Localising.’


On enterprise:

‘I got so many ideas but I wouldn’t know how to put them into a plan. Young people don’t know who to turn to. People might know about stuff like the Princes Trust, but they don’t know what it does, they think it’s for youth clubs. When they have training day events they should have people saying “have you thought about starting your own business?” rather than just signing for training.’

‘We all got ideas and ambition to try to do something. But we’re getting tired, losing motivation.’ 


This project is supported by the Pears FoundationTrust for London and the Barrow Cadbury Trust

One Billion Rising


About One Billion Rising

One Billion Rising is an international coalition of campaigners speaking out for action to tackle violence against girls and women across the world. 160 countries and over 27,000 individuals have signed already. Together with over 9,200 organisations, that include V-Day event beneficiaries, we are already reaching over 61 million people. It is taking place on 14 February 2013 to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls.

The campaign is gaining momentum nationally with workshops taking place across the country, media coverage from The Guardian and support coming from many public figures, from actors and comedians to politicians to everyday readers.

Find out more at You can also find out more about specific UK events here:


 Read more about One Billion Rising...

This project is in collaboration with Stella Creasy MP and various schools around London.

I Can Be She

Muslim Women in the UK

  • Equality should be a lived reality for all. Yet Muslim women face a double discrimination on the basis of their gender and their faith.
  • At GCSE level, the performance of Muslim girls as a group is better than the national average. But once they leave education, Muslim women are almost four time as likely to be unemployed as Christian women. 69% of Muslim women of working age are economically inactive.
  • In employment, Pakistani women earn 28% less than White men, compared to 17% less for White women. The Department for Work and Pensions has estimated that between a quarter and a half of the ethnic minority employment gap is caused by employer discrimination.
  • According to one poll, 57% of Muslim women say that they want to work. However, 64% say they need more practical support from the government in terms of access to childcare and language lessons to do so.
  • Muslim women face the highest levels of inequality in health and housing in the UK. They report the highest rate of ill health among all faith and gender groups – 16%, compared to 8% of Christian women. A third of Muslim families live in overcrowded accommodation.
  • The first three Muslim women MPs were elected at the 2010 general election.

Sources: National Equality Panel, An anatomy of economic inequality in the UK; Offices for National Statistics; Equality and Human Rights Commission, How fair is Britain? The First Triennial Review; Office for National Statistics

Follow our progress here!

 'I Can Be She' is supported by the Open Society Foundation's At Home in Europe project.

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