Viewers were left outraged last night after a British woman posing as a Muslim was subjected to vile abuse as she walked past her local pub.
Katie Freeman was targeted by drinkers while disguised in a hijab as she took part in an explosive new documentary on Channel 4 called For My Week as a Muslim.
The 42-year-old was taunted in her hometown of Manchester by punters, including one who asked is she planned to ‘blow them up’, in the same week that a terror attack rocked the city.
However Katie, a former ‘ban the burka’ campaigner, also came into criticism for claiming early on in the programme that Muslims did not ‘dress British’.
As part of the documentary, Katie spent seven days living with with Saima Alvi, 49, and her family.
New perspective: Katie, left, spent a week living as a Pakistani Muslim for the Channel 4 show
‘Disgusting’: Katie was subject to Islamaphobic abuse from punters when she walked past her local pub wearing a hijab as part of the Channel 4 documentary My Week as a Muslim, pictured
Horrified: Dismayed viewers took to Twitter to express their horror at the vile taunts
Katie said she felt ‘sickened’ by the taunts outside the pub and viewers agreed those responsible should be ‘ashamed’.
Others claimed it was Katie who should feel embarrassed after she initially struggled to accept Saima’s way of life.
One moment saw Katie explain that she did not think her Manchester-born host ‘dressed British’, prompting viewers to brand her ‘ignorant’.
Just 10 minutes into the hour-long programme, one viewer posted: ‘This woman is so awful I can barely watch it.’
Cameras followed Katie as she initially struggled to integrate with the community – including during a stint as a chaperone on a ‘date’ between two young Muslims looking to marry.
By the end of the documentary she had become friends with her Muslim hosts and says white and Muslim Brits need to put on a ‘united front’ in the face of adversity and terrorism.
The positive outcome also prompted tweets from viewers who praised Channel 4 for creating an ‘eye opening’ show.
Heckled: Katie said she was left ‘sickened’ by the abuse she received from pub regulars
Bigots: Viewers were horrified by the abuse – but others said they were not surprised
My Week as a Muslim saw Katie move in with Saima Alvi, 49, and her family to live life by Islamic customs and experience the prejudices they face in a culture of Islamophobia. It was filmed at the time of the Manchester terror attack.
Saima helped her to dress in a hijab and modest clothing to look like a devout Muslim woman.
In one shocking incident the cameras followed Katie as she walked home past her local pub only for locals to begin shouting anti-Muslim abuse at her, asking if she was going to blow them up.
‘Ignorant’: Katie felt uncomfortable when Saima’s family prayed, pictured, saying she associates ‘Allahu Akbar’ with suicide bombers
Blasted: Katie was criticised by viewers over her lack of understanding of the Muslim faith
An outraged Katie was left visibly shaken by the incident, saying: ‘That’s what they have to put up with all the time don’t they? What harm am I doing walking down there? Absolutely no harm.
‘And what did they about blowing things up and stuff like that? F***ing idiots. It just sickens me the stuff they’ve shouted to me but it’s only a few days isn’t it? I can take this off and go back to being Katie and they probably wouldn’t even make a comment would they?
‘For Saima if she came here and her family came here they’d have that abuse all the time wouldn’t they? It would be relentless.’
Welcomed: Katie, third from right, stayed with Saima Alvi, 49, third from left, for a week
Alien experience: Katie said she felt like she was ‘in another country’ living with Saima
Horrifying: Katie and Saima watched the news of the Manchester attack unfolding together
At the beginning of the documentary Katie admitted her prejudices about Muslims, confessing that she had left a shop because her daughter was left ‘frightened’ when a woman wearing a burka entered.
She said: ‘Banning the headdresses and burkas I think it would make a lot of people feel a lot happier, a lot safer. I wouldn’t want to sit next to them because I’d automatically assume they’re going to blow something up.’
Katie took part in the experiment in a bid to learn how it feels to be a Muslim in modern Britain, in an age of terrorist attacks and rising instances of anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Immersed: Katie, third from right, joined Saima and her friends for prayers at the local mosque
Reality: Katie became concerned to learn that one woman in niqab feared going outside
The programme also drew criticism online after it emerged that Katie would be given a makeover to look Pakistani; a process that involved darkening her skin and wearing a false nose and teeth.
Her changed appearance made life difficult for Katie, who began experiencing abuse while out and about, particularly in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on Manchester Arena, which killed 22 people.
The documentary shows Katie and Saima watching the news about the attack unfold on TV together, as Katie found herself wanting to pull out of the experiment for her own safety for fear of being attacked.
However it still took Katie a while to understand Muslim traditions.
Newfound respect: By the end of the show Katie, right, and Saima had struck up a friendship
Praise: The documentary was hailed as ‘positive’ and ‘amazing’ by some viewers
She felt uncomfortable when Saima’s family prayed, saying she associated ‘Allahu Akbar’ with suicide bombers.
Katie visited a Muslim marriage bureau where young single Muslims will go to find a date.
She was tasked with chaperoning a date between two young people and awkwardly sat and watched as they got to know each other.
It was obvious that Katie didn’t understand the custom, saying afterwards: ‘What the hell was that all about? It doesn’t feel natural like it’s been put together. I just don’t understand why they feel the need to do that.
‘They’re both young attractive people, what’s wrong with the good old fashioned way? Meet somebody out, I like the look of you, can we have a chat, give us your number.’
The documentary ended with Katie telling her mother about the experiment and revealed herself in her Muslim disguise.
Her mother began crying and said she was ‘frightened’ of her own daughter, saying: ‘I just don’t like it Kate. I just look at you and, it’s horrible, but i couldn’t live in a family like that.’
But Kate had begun to see Muslims in a different light, and said she feels both the White and Muslim communities need to unite.
She said: ‘You can’t blame the whole of the Muslims for one person’s mindless act of terror can you? Just because they choose to live their life differently to me doesn’t mean they’re any less welcome to be here.
‘We have to be strong and put on a united front.’