Muslim mum attacked – another case of Islamophobia being incorrectly recorded?
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday May 02 2018
The Liverpool Echo reports on how a Muslim woman was left unconscious after suffering a horrific ordeal in front of her young children.
Ms Hamman Hamood was with her four young children in McDonald’s in Kensington, on the 27th of March, when Ms Kellie Cooke approached her and started hurling abuse at the Muslim mum unprovoked.
Ms Cooke appeared at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court yesterday, 1st of May 2018, pleading guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence and racially aggravated assault.
The prosecuting barrister, Ms Melanie Tomlinson, stated to the court that: “As Mrs Hamood waited at the counter to order her food she became aware of the defendant laughing…The defendant asked the complainant what a Frappucino was. The complainant pointed at a photo to show her, and the defendant continued to laugh and mock the way the complainant spoke”.
Ms Tomlinson she added: “She [Ms Cooke] then said ‘go back to your own country, you shouldn’t wear that scarf in this country’, and ‘why are you not wearing a full face covering, f*** you”.
The defendant then proceeded to shout abuse at Ms Hamood’s frightened young children.
Ms Hamood phoned for her husband for help, after which Ms Cooke attempted to rip Ms Hamood’s hijab off.
The violent ordeal resulted in Ms Hamood losing consciousness with one of her children, too young to understand the consequence of such physical assault, testified in court and said: “Mummy was sleeping on the floor”.
A police community support officer had entered the restaurant and found Ms Cooke hurling racist abuse.
The defending barrister, Mr Matthew O’Neil, said that the incident was not typical of Ms Cooke’s conduct and was “out of character”. He reminded the court that Ms Cooke had no previous convictions.
The judge, Ms Wendy Lloyd, said: “This must have been extremely frightening for these victims. As well as frightening, it was utterly degrading for her and her children who were no doubt going out for what they thought would be a lovely meal”.
Ms Lloyd has requested a pre-sentence report to be produced before the sentence can be announced and as such adjourned the case until the 17th of May.
Ms Cooke has been released on bail in the meantime with the condition that she cannot contact the victim, Ms Hamood.
The incident comes as a worrying addition to a trend of rising racial or religious hate crimes being committed. The Merseyside police force noted 2,268 incidents of such assaults in 2016/17, a significant increase from the previous year (28%).
The case is also interesting in that it is one of many cases where Muslims have been targeted however the case has been prosecuted not as a religious hate crime but a racial hate crime.
This may be due to the Crown Prosecution Service attempting to reconcile the evidence available and maximise the chance of a successful conviction. However, multiple such cases may result in the under-reporting of religious hate crime in the long-term.
Other cases include that of two men who smeared pork on a mosque in Sherwood last year however the pair were arrested for racially aggravated public order offences even though it was clearly religiously-motivated. Another case was that of Mr James Palmer who planted a fake bomb outside a mosque in Paisley, but was again convicted of a racially-aggravated charge and not a religiously-aggravated one.
The arguably inappropriate convictions mean that numbers recording religious hate crimes are far lower than expected and proceed to paint an overly-optimistic picture of religiously-aggravated abuse not being a problem in the UK.
Indeed, there are many who argue that Islamophobia is not a mainstream problem including UKIP assembly group leader, Neil Hamilton who has previously stated “there are no reliable statistics on hate crime” adding that “there isn’t a general problem with Islamophobia in the United Kingdom or Wales”.