Aasma Day set out to investigate Islamophobia within the NHS for HuffPost UK, prepared to hear accounts of Muslim healthcare workers subjected to Islamphobic slurs in the line of duty.
As she began to delve deeper into the issue interviewing numerous Muslim NHS workers,, she exposed a far bigger, more hidden issue – the prejudices Muslim medics face on a daily basis from their own NHS colleagues and bosses.
Aasma joined forces with the British Islamic Medical Association to undertake a flagship in-depth survey of Muslim health workers.
What emerged was the shocking revelation that Islamophobia is rife in the NHS and Muslims are suffering abuse from their own colleagues ranging from outright bullying to more subtle and covert discrimination.
Aasma worked hard to gain the trust of many Muslim NHS workers persuading them to share their experiences. Many agreed to go on the record and be named to highlight this hidden issue affecting so many.
From taunts about bacon and alcohol to being described as “looking like a terrorist, Aasma discovered harrowing tales of Islamophobic incidents occuring daily within the NHS going under the radar disguised as “banter”.
The investigation also exposed obstacles Muslims face in the NHS – including discriminatory attitudes to the hijab; difficulties carrying out prayers and being denied career progression opportunities due to not attending social occasions revolving around alcohol.
Aasma’s exclusive investigation exposed the very real and hidden human rights issue of Islamophobia affecting NHS workers in the UK – something which is particularly harrowing given the large percentage of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) health workers who have died of coronavirus.
Aasma’s investigation resulted in numerous follow-up articles:
Exposing the hidden issue of Islamophobia in the NHS that Muslim staff face from their own colleagues provoked a huge reaction from HuffPost UK readers, powerfully contributing to human rights change.
It was widely read and shared extensively. Aasma was inundated with people sharing their own tales of Islamophobia, describing the article as a “Me Too” moment.
The total audience was around 65k on the weekend of publication alone. The article and its related follow-up pieces continue to be widely read on HuffPost and achieved large audience figures on Apple News.
Importantly, it reached a wide and varied audience demographic. It was widely read and shared by people from a BAME background, many of whom told Aasma they felt their voices weren’t usually heard by the national mainstream media.
The articles were taken higher up the NHS by experts to provoke action and change. The Muslim Doctors Association thanked Aasma for investigating this issue and took the articles to NHS England, the General Medical Council and British Medical Association.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association, said: “I wanted to congratulate you on the Islamophobia in the NHS investigation which was a brilliant and much-needed piece of journalism.”