“I think three years ago I would have just sat there and taken it, but not now. Now, I’ll say something.”
Since then, the mother-of-three has been named by Debrett’s as one of the 500 most influential people in the UK.
Yet, despite this, Hussain has been subjected to countless racist attacks – so much so that she has, on occasion, been left feeling fearful for herself and her family.
“It’s really scary to be a Muslim right now,” she admitted. “Sometimes my kids will say, ‘Mummy, do people not like Muslims?’”
Speaking to The Times weekend magazine, Hussain went on to say that, while she used to do her best to ignore people’s misguided hatred and acknowledge the “dignity in silence”, she has now made a point of fighting back against the prejudices she faces.
As such, she’s made a point of using her position in the public eye to defend herself, as well as others.
“I have to justify my existence all the time,” she said.
“I’m a little bit of everything. I’m brown. I’m Muslim. I cover my hair. I claim to be British at the same time so I get abuse from every angle.
“I’m never a good enough Muslim. I’m not a good enough Brit. I’m not a good enough Bangladeshi. I think three years ago I would have just sat there and taken it, but not now.
“Now, I’ll say something.”
Of course, Hussain is by far from the only one who has been subjected to racial abuse: indeed, in 2016/17 there were 80,393 hate crimes recorded by the police in the UK alone.
This was an increase of 29% compared with the 62,518 hate crimes recorded in 2015/16, the largest percentage increase seen in years. So what can we help?
Well, one of the most significant things we can do if you witness racial or religious abuse in public is to report it to the police.
A British Transport Police spokesman said: “Any crime or incident of anti-social behaviour which is motivated by racial hatred is particularly abhorrent and British Transport Police is working hard to drive such behaviour from the railway.
“Only by understanding the true scale and nature of the problem, can we hope to develop lasting solutions that will give all travellers and rail staff an environment as free from hate crime as possible.”
When on public transport, people can report incidents by texting 61016 or by calling 0800 405040, in addition to calling 999 in the cases of emergencies.
“What is important for people to know is that we care and we will respond,” said the spokesman.