Niqab wearing King’s student assaulted outside campus

24th Mar 2016

King’s College London, Strand campus where a student wearing the niqab was assaulted

Nadine Osman

Police arrested two men for “using racially aggravated threatening words and behaviour” after a student’s niqab [full face veil] was pulled off outside the King’s College London (KCL), Strand campus on March 4.

Witnesses say that 20 minutes into the scuffle KCL security stood “idly by” and discouraged others from intervening.

Mohamed Abdullahi, Student, said, “I had to put myself in harm’s way to protect the Muslim women who were being verbally and physically assaulted after King’s security just stood there and were being non-responsive.”

Fatima Ali who was present when the attacks took place said, “Security only called the police when the animal rights activists said the men were being aggressive but not when someone complained about a Muslim woman’s niqab being pulled down.”

Eyewitnesses told the student publication Roar! that the men approached the Islamic Society stall and began throwing leaflets before reaching for the Muslim woman’s niqab.

King’s have said in a statement and an email sent to all students that “two security managers and a senior member of staff arrived on the scene and positioned themselves between both parties and attempted to defuse the situation. The two men were asked to leave the area but they refused. The police were called by security at 1.10pm and arrived at 1.50pm.”

However, other eyewitnesses insisted that King’s security personnel went back inside the Strand building after the incident began. The female Muslim students were outside the Strand campus with stalls as part of the Discover Islam Week initiative organised by KCL Islamic Society.

In a statement to The Muslim News a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that they were, at approximately 1:10am , “to report of two males making racially aggravated and homophobic comments in Strand, WC2. Officers attended and two men, aged 39 and 41, were arrested under section 4 of the Public Order Act.”

The attack comes in the wake of statistics released by Scotland Yard showing that hate crimes against Muslims in London have risen by 70 percent in the last year.

According to Scotland Yard’s figures Westminster borough [where the Strand campus is located] had the highest number [54] of Islamophobic incidents last year.

Co-founder of the anti sexual harassment campaign ‘It Stops Here’, Hareem Ghani, said, “There is no point for King’s to champion initiatives like ‘It Stops Here’ and commit to stamping out sexual harassment if they cannot extend the same courtesy to Muslim students – especially “visibly” Muslim women who face the brunt of these attacks.”

Islamic Society President, Issa Ruhani, said, “We call for an investigation into this incident. Had this been any other student group, would the response of the College Security be the same? We feel that there has been a failure in the duty of the College to protect students, especially in this climate of widespread Islamophobia and anti-Muslim violence.”

In 2014 the Muslim prayer room signs at Guy’s Campus were defaced.

King’s issued an update statement the following day reassuring students that they will “be reviewing the incident, including the CCTV evidence, to establish precisely what happened and further improve student safety on campus.”

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