Elham Asaad Buaras
Police have reported a spike in hate crimes against Muslims across the UK following the terror attacks in Paris on November 13.
One of the most serious incidents involved the owner of a takeaway restaurant in Fife, Scotland, who was attacked by a gang who repeatedly mentioned the Paris attacks as they kicked him in the head.
Mohammed Khalid was seriously injured and required hospital treatment after a gang of 15 men assaulted him at his restaurant in Methil.
Khalid, 53, and his wife were in the process of shutting the Caspian Fast Food restaurant in the early hours on November 15 morning when he was attacked.
The men abused Khalid and his wife, shouting anti-Muslim slurs about ISIS in relation to the terrorist attacks in Paris. He received serious eye injuries during the attack and was admitted to hospital. Khalid’s wife sustained minor injuries in the incident.
Police are working to identify the remaining attackers. Khalid’s daughter, Shama, uploaded CCTV footage from outside of the restaurant to YouTube, in the hope of identifying some of the attackers.
“My parents have lived and worked in Fife for over 25 years and have never dealt with anything like this. Mum was saying that we have been here long before these boys were even born. Dad is a well known member of the community, and is very much respected. They are still recovering from the shock of the incident, it’s difficult to see them upset that this happened in a place they spent most their lives,” she said.
In London, a girl wearing a hijab was abused on a subway train. Fellow passenger Ashley Powys wrote on Facebook how he intervened to save the girl as they traveled between Oxford Circus and Brixton in central London on November 14. “I got on the train as normal and sat opposite a young girl wearing a hijab,” he said. “She smiled at me as I sat down and nothing else was said. Just behind me, another guy got on the train and stood at the connecting door of the tube and began to stare at this girl.”
Powys said the man verbally abused the girl, calling her a “terrorist”, “scum” and referring to the Paris attacks. The 22-year-old said he pushed the man away and then comforted the girl until she reached her stop. A British Transport Police spokesman said police were aware of social media reports of a “hate crime” on the line. “We treat all such incidents extremely seriously,” he said.
In Scotland, a Muslim cultural center in Bishopbriggs, 4 miles north of Glasgow, was targeted in a firebomb attack early November 17 morning. “The fire is being treated as willful and a joint investigation between Police Scotland and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is now underway,” said Chief Inspector Craig Smith, a local police commander.
General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Grahame Smith, said, “While the police are still investigating the exact nature of this incident, the STUC has been saddened to note a rise in community tensions after the attack in Paris on Friday night.
“Scotland’s Muslim community cannot, and should not, be held responsible for the despicable acts of extremists here, across Europe or in Syria. At this time it is important that we continue to pursue our values of peace and tolerance, and show that Scotland is a welcoming and warm nation where everyone’s human rights are respected.”
On the same day a petrol bomb was thrown through the window of Muslim man and his wife in Ballykeel, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Amin and Margaret Ibrahim were uninjured.
“They all think that Muslims are the same but they’re not,” Margaret Ibrahim said.
“I just feel so angry that somebody would do that to innocent people. I’m really afraid to live here anymore with my family.”
Ibrahim said it was not the first time they had been the target of anti-Islam harassment. “It’s Islamophobia,” he said. “We get hassled all the time.”
Supt Ryan Henderson said: “The criminals who carried out this attack are ignorant, intolerant and dangerous people. Their hateful views and intolerance have manifested themselves in a dangerous attack on an innocent family.”
Supt Henderson said the petrol bomb attack was “out of step” with the area’s multicultural community. “I am disgusted by this attack and I know that the vast majority of Ballymena people will react in a similar way,” he said.