Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Oxford Mail reports on the sentencing of a pensioner for religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress after a Muslim woman in hijab was abused outside a Sainsbury’s store in Bexhill-on-Sea.

Barbara Anne Blauvelt, 77, told victim, Ritha Ahmed, “You look like you’re about to bomb the place,” outside the store on 11 January.

Blauvelt told Ms Ahmed “Women in Britain don’t cover up. You should not cover up. If you’re going to live in Britain, you should live by British rules.”

Ahmed, who was with her two young daughters at the time of the incident, told police officers she had been abused by Blauvelt in a separate incident outside a doctor’s surgery in September 2015.

Blauvelt was charged with two counts of religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress and was convicted at Eastbourne Magistrates Court on April 21.

Blauvelt was handed a 12-month conditional discharge, and ordered to pay £620 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Speaking after the trial, Ms Ahmed praised East Sussex police for their handling of the incident and urged hate crime victims to report offences to the police.

She told the local paper: “I was born and brought up in Bexhill and I have never come across anything like this.

“I felt I needed to take this further to avoid further verbal abuse on women who choose to dress differently, regardless of whether it is a hijab or a habit.

“Everyone should be able to dress as they please and not have to face getting attacked by anyone.”

The York Press reports on the jailing of a pizza delivery driver who sent a series of text messages to his boss threatening to kill him and petrol bomb his shop.

Darrell Green, 26,  began work for Pizza King as a delivery driver on February 28 and just hours into his job “he stole two pizzas, two pizza bags worth £25 each and a £40 cash float after failing to return from a delivery in his Vauxhall Corsa”.

On February 29, he sent the first of a series of messages to his boss, Mr Mayil. The first message read: “Let’s see if you have a shop window when I put a petrol bomb through it.” Green added an “expletive-filled xenophobic insult” to the message, according to the paper.

Further messages were sent in the days that followed with Green telling Mr Mayil “You’re going to get what’s coming;” “You’re a migrant and should be back in your own country… I wouldn’t like to be with you when I get hold of you;” and “Tonight‘s the night I’m personally going to kill you myself”.

After Green was charged by the police on April 7 for theft and driving offences, he sent further messages to Mr Mayil intimidating him for reporting the abuse to the police. On March 22, Green sent a text message stating: “Think you’re clever going to the police. I will have the last laugh before you go to court.”

Two days later, he wrote: “I’m going to blow your house to the ground, I know your name and address.”

On April 1, days before his court date on 7 April, Green sent another message to Mr Mayil stating: “Got my court date next Thursday. Let’s hope for your sake it goes in my favour or you’re a dead man. Drop the charges now while you have a chance. This is not a threat. It’s a promise.”

Green admitted racially aggravated assault, intimidating a witness, theft, and two counts of driving while disqualified and driving without insurance at earlier hearings and appeared before York Crown Court this week for sentencing.

Recorder Alistair Macdonald QC told Green that the impact of his threats on Mr Mayil had left him “absolutely terrified of what might happen to him.”

Green was sentenced to a combined jail term of three years and six months. He must serve two years and six months for racial harassment, three months for theft and three months for witness intimidation. He received a further six-month sentence for driving while disqualified to run concurrently.

Judge Macdonald also issued a restraining order and Green must make no contact with Mr Mayil or come within one mile of Pizza King.

Green was subject to an 18-month conditional discharge for threatening behaviour from April 17, 2015, but received no separate penalty for breaching it.

West Yorkshire Police have announced the appointment of a “Positive Action Co-Ordinator” to improve recruitment to the local force from under-represented groups and to make the local constabulary more representative of the area it serves.

The low level of representation of ethnic minorities in the national police force has seen a number of forces run targeted recruitment drives in order to attract individuals from under-represented groups. Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Police Service reported a record rise in the number of BME recruits after the force adopted new recruitment strategies.

West Yorkshire Police have appointed a former PCSO (Police Community Support Offcier) and now police constable, PD Amjad Ditta, to the role of Positive Action Co-Ordinator in a bid to address its own record on police diversity.

The announcement states PC Ditta will attend “churches, mosques, schools and university career events” in order to promote a career in policing among ethnic minority groups.

Workshops offering advice and assistance to potential applicants will form part of the role . It is hoped that PC Ditta will serve as a “single point of contact” for people aspiring for a career in policing and for staff members within the force on matters of recruitment and diversity.

The lack of BME officers has been a problem since the publication of the MacPherson report in 1999 and the identification of “institutional racism” in the police force. Improving diversity in police forces was highlighted as one means of addressing the problem of officers not reflecting the makeup of the communities they serve and its wider impact on policing practice.  Despite recruitment targets begin set to increase the proportion of BME officers in the police to 7% from 1999 to 2009, the figure had only reached 4.4% by 2009, rising to 5.6% by 2014.

The Government has since set out further plans to increase diversity in police recruitment by 2020.

The news website, Wales Online posts video footage showing a horrendous rant against a Muslim taxi driver by a passenger who described himself as a  “f***ing massive racist person”.

The passenger who was being driven home late at night can be heard uttering a slew of swear words at the driver telling him “I f***ing hate people like you”.

The offender challenged the driver to a “fight in the park” and told him “If you want to bomb my house you can. Come around and bomb me, I don’t give a f***.”

When the driver asked the man if he was a racist, the passenger replied, “I am f***ing racist, I f***ing hate, I am f***ing racist, I’m a f***ing massive racist person.”

On leaving the cab the passenger repeatedly called the driver a “black c***” and told him to “f*** off”.

Commenting on the footage, Mathab Khan, chairman of Cardiff Hackney Carriages Association, said “Taxi drivers are subjected not only to racism but also to Islamophobia. This is the reality of what is going in Cardiff, but it happens everywhere.”

Wales Online reports that the incident was brought to the attention of South Wales’ Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael. Mr Khan raised the problem of recurring incidents saying “I have explained that the guys are subjected to this and it happens all the time.”

In December 2011, 731 taxi drivers associated with the Cardiff Hackney Carriages Association were ready to walk out on strike in protest over the council and local police force’s failure to respond quickly to the escalating number of attacks against taxi drivers in Cardiff.

At the time, Mr Khan said: “Taxi drivers often ply their trade in conditions which render them vulnerable to abuse. They are alone; their peak working hours are late at night; they are at the whim of those they are transporting and, often, they are outnumbered when violence takes place. The potential strike in Cardiff embodies concerns about all violence in the upcoming Christmas period. But the risks of racist attacks are highest.”

The news site notes that 50 year old Mark Chapman, 50, was arrested during the early hours of March 24 in connection with the incident and pleaded guilty to causing racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress by using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court on April 11.

Chapman was jailed for 95 days and ordered to pay his victim £500 compensation. He was also ordered to pay £85 in court costs and an £80 surcharge to fund victim services.

The high incidence of racist and Islamophobic abuse suffered by taxi drivers has led to some companies installing CCTV cameras in cars to protect drivers and to provide vital evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service in the prosecution of hate crime.

Drivers have also been sharing footage of their encounters with racist and abusive passengers with local media agencies drawing attention to the prevalence of abuse suffered by those working in the night-time economy.

The Asian Image newspaper relates a number of incidents of Islamophobia with Muslim women recounting their experiences at home, in the workplace and on public transport.

The paper features interviews with a Muslim doctor, a mum with young children, a PhD student and an A level student all of whom wear a form of Islamic dress; a headscarf or face veil (niqab).

One of the victims, a Muslim mother with young children recounts the abuse she suffered while out and about. She states that she reported the incidents to the police only when the abuse “followed her home”. She recounted being called “Bin Laden’s wife” and “traitor” in the streets and the escalation of abuse with eggs smashed through her letterbox and a group of boys throwing a can of fizzy drink over her and calling her a “lazy immigrant.”

The victim said: “I can’t live with my children in fear like this. Perhaps the gang see me as an easier target because I have young children and I don’t have a husband. I have since moved [home].”

A Muslim doctor who wears hijab talked about suffering abuse while tending to patients saying that one patient “spat at her” during a consultation while another told her “to go back to my own country as I’m taking up a white person’s job.”

“I don’t think there’s any point telling people like that that I was born in England,” she said.

A PhD student who wears the niqab and spends late nights in the lab spoke about incidents occurring on public transport when travelling late at night. The student related a number of incidents of abuse saying that people would avoid sitting next to her on the train or take “subtle pictures” to “post on social media”. She said she had been called “a filthy Arab by a group of men who then emptied their beer cans on my hijab. When the train is moving, there is no escape until the next stop.”

On another occasion a man “made a mock gun sign with his hand as he stared at me.”

“In shopping centres I have had security men following me around. It’s easier just to leave to be honest,” she added.

An A level student recounted abuse in the days following the attacks in Brussels saying that a man sitting next to her on the train “started a very loud conversation with his friend talking about ‘f**king Muslims blowing up another bomb’ and how ‘Islam is a violent religion’ and that ‘all Muslims secretly condone the terrorist attacks.”

“No-one else said anything on the underground. People don’t intervene really, do they?”

The cases related in the news article reinforce the fears expressed by Muslim women about being targeted for anti-Muslim hate crime because of their appearance.

The news article does not mention whether all of the women suffering Islamophobic abuse reported the incidents to the police or to their employers or institution, be it an NHS Trust or university. The cases do illustrate the many situations in which Muslim women are singled out for abuse, in the workplace or while out in public, and further reinforces the need to ensure that all incidents are reported to the police for proper documentation and investigation.

The Hull Daily Mail reports on an assault on a 10 year old Muslim boy who was “set upon” by a “gang of youths” who punched and kicked him as he played with friends in a local park.

The incident, which happened around 7pm on Friday 22 April has left the victim “too afraid” to go out to play with friends in the park according to his father.

The victim, 10 year old Abdul Azeem Khaliq, had been playing with a friend at Bude Park in Bransholme when he was approached by a gang of children, aged between 9 and 13. One of the children called Abdul Azeem a “fat p*** b******” before “punching him the face, tripping him up and kicking him repeatedly while he lay defenceless on the floor.”

Other children playing in the park came to Abdul Azeem’s aid as he ran home to alert his parents.

His father, Mo Khaliq, went to the park to identify the offenders but said the gang “ran off when they saw me.”

Abdul Azeem suffered bruising to his head and jaw in the attack.

The local paper reports that a number of similar incidents have happened in the area in recent weeks prompting Abdul Azeem’s father to urge local parents to take responsibility for their children’s conduct.

Mr Khaliq told the local paper: “I am totally disgusted and still very angry about what has happened.”

“I want to find out who is responsible for this so their parents can be aware of their behaviour.

“Many parents don’t know where their kids are these days and what they are getting up to, there is no discipline there. They need to take responsibility for their kids.”

Mr Khaliq reported the incident to Hull police who have confirmed that a nine year old has been visited by police officers at his home in connection with the incident.

A police spokeswoman said: “Officers were due to give words of advice to a nine-year-old Bransholme boy yesterday, following claims he was involved in the assault of a ten-year-old in the park off Bude Road.

“The victim was walking with a friend in the park when it is said a group of children approached them and that one of the group assaulted the ten-year-old. The nine-year-old’s parents have also been made aware of the incident and have spoken to their son.”

Hull police have also urged anyone with information about the incident to call police on 101, quoting log 557 of April 22.

 

The Daily Express and Daily Star report on a suspected hate crime incident at Totteridge mosque in High Wycombe on Wednesday 20 April.

Thames Valley police are investigating a possible hate crime motive after a male youth was seen throwing bottles of alcohol at the mosque while Muslims were inside performing prayers.

Local resident, Mohammed Khaliel, who was at the mosque when the incident happened said that when worshippers in the mosque “looked at the back, a male youth was seen rushing into a car and driving off at speed. Shattered glass and alcohol was spread on the ground.”

“We were shocked to hear the glass smashing and loud bang noise, followed by the speeding off by the car,” he added.

Mr Khaliel said the mosque has installed “a comprehensive CCTV system” and said he hoped it was “just a matter of time” before the offenders are caught.

Mr Khaliel also noted the apprehension among some local Muslim residents to report the incident to the police. He said there was “reluctance from some members of the public to approach the police” over the attack.

Under-reporting of anti-Muslim hate crime is a serious problem with data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales showing that around half of all hate crime is brought to the attention of police forces.

The Sunderland Echo reports on the sentencing of two women who subjected an Iranian doorman to a 20 minute tirade of racist abuse outside Illusions nightclub in Sunderland city centre.

Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard that Kimberley McLeod, 27 and Jodie Connolly, 19 had been out drinking at the nightclub in the early hours of March 1, 2016.

The two women had been ejected from the nightclub and were standing outside having a smoke. The doorman, who is of Iranian descent, went over to tell the women to move away from the door to avoid smoke being blown in the direction of the entrance.

Connolly then began swearing racist abuse at the doorman, abuse so offensive that the local paper has chosen not to print it.

Connolly told the doorman, “You, you come into my country and think you can tell me what to do. You stink, do you have a bomb?”

McLeod joined in telling the doorman “You shouldn’t work in a pub, you should work in a curry place.”

The doorman went into the nightclub to avoid the women but the abuse continued “for 20 minutes”.

The paper reports that the women desisted only after “a member of staff flagged down a passing police car” and the two of them were arrested.

Prosecutor Paul Doney told the court the victim felt he had been targeted for the abuse “because of his ethnic appearance and accent.”

In a victim personal statement read out in court, the Iranian victim said: “This incident has made me feel extremely upset.

“I’ve been in this country a long time now.

“Although I was not born here, I am a British citizen.

“I put up with people shouting at me because of my job, but I don’t expect to be targeted for my appearance or accent.”

Kimberley McLeod and Jodie Connolly pleaded guilty to causing racially aggravated harassment alarm or distress. They were each fined £120, with £85 costs and £15 victim surcharge.

The Courier reports on an initiative being developed by the Kirkcaldy Islamic Centre in Fife to host open days at the mosque in a bid to build friendly relations between Muslims and the local community.

At a meeting held earlier this month with the SNP MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Roger Mullin, participants learned of the scale of the spike in hate crime in Scotland in the aftermath of the Paris attacks in November 2015. Mr Mullin referred to an FOI request which disclosed 60 hate crimes recorded by Police Scotland in Fife between November 12 and December 31 last year.

The Kirkcaldy Islamic Centre was itself the target of a reprisal attack in the weeks following the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby when in July 2013 its walls were daubed with graffiti stating “All Muslims will perish” while cars belonging to members of the centre and parked in the centre’s car park were sprayed painted with crosses on license plates and on a bonnet.

The centre is now considering holding open days at the mosque. Ahmad Al-Remal, deputy secretary of Kirkcaldy Islamic Centre, told the local paper: “We’re seeing the repercussions of years and years of, maybe, being not close enough to each other.

“I think we need to be a little bit more proactive as a minority.”

The Evening Telegraph reports on the sentencing of a teenager for a string of offences including racially aggravated harassment causing fear, alarm or distress.

Ryan Simpson, 19, appeared at Dundee Sheriff Court on a range of charges. He was accused of stealing a tractor owned by Dundee City Council and going on a joyride. Simpson admitted stealing the vehicle on February 15.

Simpson also admitted three charges of theft or attempted theft at Craigie High School. Simpson admitted trying to steal two bicycles from the bike shed at the school on 18 January and admitted stealing a jacket from the school 2 days later.

Simpson further admitted trying to cut through a security chain with a hacksaw and attempting to steal a mountain bike an at Asda store on January 22.

On other charges, Simpson admitted brandishing a hacksaw in a threatening manner towards Ryan Ross and to racially abusing shop owner Ihsan Haq in a manner intended to cause alarm and distress at a shop in Hilltown on September 21 2015.

Sheriff George Way sitting at Dundee Sheriff Court sentenced Simpson to 12 months’ detention in order to “wipe Simpson’s slate clean”.