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Student “living in fear” after having hijab ripped off

28th Oct 2016

Nadine Osman

Police are searching for two men who ripped off a woman’s hijab in what they called a “religiously motivated crime” on Tottenham High Road, London on September 28.

The 21-year-old, who wishes to remain anonymous, said the incident has left her wary of men in public.

The first suspect is described as white, aged in his late 20s or early 30s, with blond or ginger shaved hair and stubble. He was approximately 5ft6, wearing a burgundy hooded top and carrying a Tesco bag in his right hand.

The second suspect is described as having a “Mediterranean” appearance, aged in his late 20s or early 30s, clean shaven with spiky hair. He was wearing a grey hoodie.

The young psychology student was walking with a friend when the men grabbed her from behind before one ripped off the hijab.

In an interview with the Standard she described how the men flanked her on either side as she waited to cross the busy road outside the College of Haringey.

She said: “I started feeling trapped and knew something was wrong so I asked him ‘what’s going on?’ and he started pointing at my hijab. The other guy, who I couldn’t see, came from behind and grabbed it shouting in broken English ‘you look more beautiful without it’.”

She added, “I was so shocked and distressed that it took me a while to realise it was happening.”

She said she had never before felt unsafe wearing the hijab, but now it was “always in the back of my mind.”

She said: “He was clearly Islamophobic and didn’t want me to be wearing it.”

Both men fled when she began to call the police. She said, “I was shocked and then got angry I started shouting at him saying ‘how can you do that?’. I don’t think he thought I was going to stand up for myself.”

The Goldsmiths University student also spoke of how pedestrians failed to come to her aid, “It was a busy high street but not one person tried to stop him. Not one person came to check if I was okay, if we needed help, nothing.”

She added: “I don’t feel safe on the streets, I’m more cautious than I have ever been – especially around men. I have to get to university and go to the library and get on with my life but it’ll always in the back of my mind.”

“My hijab is my religious faith, it’s my identity, it’s who I am. For him to come and pull it off it saddens me. It’s 2016 and people are still hating each other because of their faith and choices.”

Tottenham MP David Lammy MP called the attack “unacceptable and intolerable” and urged any witnesses to contact the police.

Detective Constable Ben Cousin of Haringey Community Safety Unit said: “This was a shocking attack in broad daylight in the middle of a busy street.  Racially and religiously motivated crimes will not be tolerated I would appeal to anyone who witnessed this attack to contact police.”

 

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