‘Get the dirty p@ki b@st@rds’, he commanded now only inches away from the front of the car, looking straight at me with so much fury and hatred in his eyes. The fawn coloured pit bull was on my side, the driver’s side, and was furiously barking whilst scratching away at the door. The metal lead smashed down on the bonnet with brutal force, and I couldn’t make sense of anything. I could hear Umar on the phone to the emergency services, I could hear the guy continuously swearing and calling us terrorists, Osama bin Laden lovers, to go back home. I couldn’t hear my baby. My attention turned immediately to the back of the car, and there was another man of scrawny appearance, out of his senses trying to smash the passenger side window.
Hate crime is a vile, destructive disease in our community and should never be tolerated. Post the Brexit vote, hate crimes have soared across the country, with bigots feeling that their behaviour, comments are now somehow more valid. Social media has been inundated with racist, xenophobic rhetoric, and this has been further fuelled by the more recent political proposals coming from the Westminster government to force companies to disclose how many foreign workers they employ, and without a doubt the influence of Trumpism.
As we come towards the end of hate crime awareness week, Amina – The Muslim Women’s Resource Centre’s message is clear, that very sadly if you experience hate crime online or in person, report it. Hate crime is illegal. A hate crime is any criminal offence committed against an individual or property that is motivated by a person’s hatred, prejudice of someone because of his or her actual or perceived race, religion, transgender identity, sexual orientation or disability.
You can report it directly to the Police in person, phoning 101, in an emergency 999, or on https://www.scotland.police.uk/secureforms/hate-crime/ . You can also report it through Amina, anonymously if you prefer, via our Dundee or Glasgow office or helpline 0808 801 0301 (Mon – Fri 10am to 4pm).
There have been an increasing number of videos appearing of vulnerable men, women and even children being hurled abuse at and attacked on public transport. Without a doubt it’s frightening and one of the key things I often hear victims share is, ‘nobody even asked if I was ok’; people not acknowledging the distress, isolation experienced, the wrong that’s taking or taken place. If you find yourself in a situation on public transport, or witness a hate crime, you can text the British Transport Police on 61016. Whilst the primary focus of BTP is trains, they can still get you help if you’re on a bus.
So what can you do if you witness something aside from reporting it? Record the incident, as long as it’s safe to do and for online, take screenshots. Take notes, remarks made, descriptions of people, location, time etc. If safe to do so, go over to the person being attacked, make eye contact and start talking to them; talk to them about the weather or complimenting them on a colour they’re wearing! Take the power away from the perpetrator. Report it.
Please don’t underestimate the impact of hate crime on the lives of your fellow community members. Seven years on from that horrific 2 minute incident, yes, all it took was 2 minutes (for two men and a dog to severely damage my car, rob me of my freedom to be and feel safe), at times I find myself withdrawing from certain areas or activities.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of their skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love” (Nelson Mandela)
PS there is no expiry date to when you can report a hate crime by – report it!