On August 14 at 17:30, Qasier Hamid, 37, was attacked by a group of unprovoked youths, leaving him bloodied and bruised in the city centre of Stockport. He says that he and other Muslims no longer feel safe.
After stepping outside of a shoe shop in the city centre, a female youth began to abuse Qaiser, saying that his “beard looked stupid”. She was then joined by several male youths who began to attack him shouting “Paki this, Paki that.”
Qaiser, who is a mental health nurse, told The Muslim News, ‘I was trying to defend myself and I heard my wife, who wears a headscarf, screaming, and then I realised there were several of them punching me.”
The attack comes at a time when there is a feeling of fear amongst the Muslim community in Stockport.
Qaiser said that “there is a consensus amongst Muslims in Stockport that the city centre is no longer safe.”
Chair of Cheadle Mosque in Stockport, Saeed Akhtar, said in a statement to The Muslim News the Muslim community “was deeply shocked about the Islamophobic attack on Qaiser. Thankfully, he escaped life threatening injury but for such an attack to occur in our hometown has gravely concerned the Muslim community.”
“The fear we have is that if such criminals are not apprehended and do not have full force of the law brought down on them, will open the gates of such attacks,” he added.
When asked to comment on whether or not there was an issue of Islamophobic attacks in Stockport, Inspector Stephen Gilbertson of Stockport Police, told The Muslim News, “I don’t think that’s the case” and labelled the incident as a “random attack”, and that the “gentleman was there at the wrong time”.
“Stockport isn’t a town centre that has racially motivated attacks”, he added.
After the attack, Qaiser ran into the shop and was told that the shop assistant had picked up a phone that had been dropped by one of the youths. The police had already been called, but as Qaiser stood in the shop, which was ‘covered in blood,’ one of the youths returned to collect the phone, threatening the shop assistant if she didn’t comply.
Qaiser said that the police took over half an hour to respond while the youths remained in the area after the attack.
The Inspector said the reason they took a long time to arrive was because “that time of evening, it was just a busy Friday evening.”
Gilbertson said on August 20 that no one was arrested for the attack.