Friday 21 October 2016

Racist abuse is part of my life, says Bake Off's Nadiya Hussain

Published 14/08/2016 | 00:06

Nadiya Hussain was a winner of the Great British Bake Off
Nadiya Hussain was a winner of the Great British Bake Off

The Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain said that racist abuse "has become a part of my life".

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The 31-year-old said she is "astounded" that she has been credited for her positive effect on race relations with the Muslim community as she described the anti-Islamic abuse she still suffers.

Becoming the latest castaway on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs, Hussain said: "It sounds really silly (but) it feels like that's become a part of my life now, I expect it.

"I expect to be shoved or pushed or verbally abused, because it happens, it's happened for years."

The mother-of-three said the abuse has made her even more determined to be a role model to her children and the wider Muslim community.

She said: "I love being British and I love living here, 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 them to grow up with a chip on their shoulder, so I live as positively as I can."

During her 10 years as a stay-at-home mother, she admitted she "got so bogged down in being the best housewife that I lost myself a little bit".

Hussain said she became isolated and "trapped in this bubble" where she only spoke to close family and feared strangers' judgment.

She said: "I couldn't get on a bus with them (her two eldest children) because I was so afraid of people looking at me, or people thinking I looked horrible, or people judging me and how could she possibly have two children in that space of time?"

Talking about her own childhood, from happy times living in Bangladesh to the family's reliance on her grandmother while her parents looked after her two seriously ill siblings in hospital, Hussain revealed she bought her parents' first house for them at the age of 19.

She explained that she was working two jobs at the time and would see her parents' landlord walk into their house whenever he wanted and tell her mother it was not clean enough so she asked to buy it from him.

When presenter Kirsty Young commented that was unusual, Hussain replied: "I've spent my whole life watching my parents sacrifice things for me so buying a house was nothing. I couldn't bear the fact that someone would come in and treat my mum like a second-class citizen."

Among the tracks she chose was Counting Crows' Accidentally In Love. Hussain was 19 when she tied the knot in an arranged marriage to husband Abdul, and he would play the song in the background while they conducted their six-month courtship over the phone.

She revealed he still serenades her with the song every single day.

:: Nadiya Hussain's Desert Island Discs airs on BBC Radio 4 at 11.15am.

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