Nadiya Hussain opens up about racist abuse: “It’s become a part of my life now”

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Kayleigh Dray
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Nadiya Hussain became an overnight household name when she was crowned the winner of The Great British Bake Off in October 2015.

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 received so much racist abuse that she now views it as just another “part of her life” as a Muslim in the UK.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, the 31-year-old explained that she has often been “pushed and shoved” by violent racists – and added that said the abuse is often triggered after “massive things happen in the news”, such as the attacks on the Twin Towers on 11 September 2001.

She said: “I’ve had things thrown at me and [been] pushed and shoved.

“I feel like that’s just become a part of my life now. I expect it. Absolutely I expect it.

"I expect to be shoved or pushed or verbally abused because that happens. It's been happening for years."

Earlier this year, the 31-year-old revealed that police had to provide protection outside her Leeds home after she was targeted by anti-Islamists over her headscarf.

Yet, despite everything she has been subjected to, Hussain continues to respond to her abusers with dignity and grace.

"I feel like there's a dignity in silence, and I think if I retaliate to negativity with negativity, then we've evened out," she said.

"And I don't need to even that out because if somebody's being negative, I need to be the better person.

"Because I've got young children, the one thing I don't want my kids to do is have a negative attitude to living in the UK because, yes, there are those negative people, but they are the minority."

She added: "I love being British and I love living here and this is my home and it always will be.

"Regardless of all the other things that define me, this is my home. And I want my kids to be proud of that, and I don't want my kids to grow up with a chip on their shoulder.

"So I live as positively as I can and all those things that do happen to me, hey, it happens but it happens to other people too and we deal with it."

Hussain will be the focus of a new BBC One documentary, a two-part series entitled The Chronicles of Nadiya.

In it, viewers will watch as the Bake Off star returns to Bangladesh for the first time in eleven years, and cameras are also invited inside her home with husband Abdal and their children.

According to The Mirror, the documentary will see Hussain address her arranged marriage in the documentary, her dreams of a different future for her own children, and the moment she, at the age of 14, decided to start wearing a Hijab.

“It’s not specifically because I came from a religious family, I think I came from quite the opposite,” she said. “It was something I found and the first part of me finding religion. It was the first act I actually did - to cover my hair. I realised the importance and significance.

“It’s a sign of being a Muslim, a sign of practicing Islam, it’s a sign of modesty, it’s just one of those things you do. Everyone finds it at different stages in your life. It’s seen as something beautiful.”

The Chronicles of Nadiya starts on BBC1 on August 24 at 9pm.

Image: Rex Features