British Muslim hiking group say public response to Islamophobic abuse 'heartwarming'
British Muslim hikers who faced a tirade of Islamophobic abuse after posting photos and videos of their walk in a popular English highland destination have described the support they have received since as "heartwarming".
A group of 130 hikers, organised by athlete Haroon Mota from Coventry, faced backlash after posting content from their Christmas walk in the Peak District on social media.
"We’ve had people saying hello are you the group that started in Syria and walking through Calais... an awful thing to say especially considering you have a refugee plight at the moment," Mota told ITV News.
They were also accused without evidence of not walking properly and leaving the area a mess.
The group, called Muslim Hikers, was started to make outdoor exercise more accessible for anyone who wanted to participate.
Mota said many of the hikers had taken up the activity for the first time.
"There is a huge level of underrepresentation from our communities in the outdoors and it’s also our south Asian communities, Muslim communities are also affected by the greatest health inequalities as well."
"Unsurprisingly our participation levels in the outdoors are low as well so it's important we get outside."
"Us being outside on the hills is integration," he said.
However, there was a lot of visible solidarity from the local community, Mota said, which was "reassuring".
The group said it hoped that the abuse would not deter Muslims from going outside to participate in walks.