Convert to Islam abused in front of children in Leeds

Rose Simkins, chief executive of Stop Hate UK.
Rose Simkins, chief executive of Stop Hate UK.

A convert to Islam was abused in front of her young children by an elderly man who reached for her Niqab.

While they waited for a bus in Leeds city centre, the man told her that someone “should rip that thing off your face.” He went on to say she should “leave our country and go home”.

The 27-year-old, who was born in the UK, ignored the man until his bus arrived.

She said: “I am used to people giving me abuse because of my faith and how I dress, even my colour to some extent – I’m white British – but my children don’t deserve that.”

Her story is one of many recorded in the last month alone by Tell Mama, a victim support service which measures anti-Muslim hate crime.

But the issue of hate crime is by no means limited to the Muslim community.

I am used to people giving me abuse because of my faith and how I dress.

Hate crime victim

Leeds councillors voiced their concerns about the increase in verbal abuse being reported to them after the EU referendum.

The picture is much the same across the country, with police statistics showing a spike in reported incidents since the vote.

New figures revealed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism show reported hate crime rose by 69 per cent in West Yorkshire in 2015/16.

For national charity Stop Hate UK, which is based in Leeds, it merely confirms the continued need to support victims of all kinds of hate crime and encourage reporting.

Chief executive Rose Simkins said: “People still don’t always know where to go or think that someone will care. That’s the message that we’re trying to get out there.

“A lot of people will say ‘thank you for listening to us’. You can hear what that means for that individual and it brings home why we’re needed.”

She said the smaller percentage rise in action taken by 
police in West Yorkshire compared the larger rise in reported incidents reflected the complexity of dealing with such cases.

“There are a lot of people who don’t want to go into the criminal justice system,” she said. Some people just want to say this has happened or they might want a different outcome.

“Some people wanted mediation, they want housing solutions, they don’t want to go to court.”

She said the key was giving people the right information and support so that they felt able to see criminal 
proceedings through to their conclusion if that was the route they chose.

A special app has been created to help witnesses and those targeted to report hate crimes that take place here in West Yorkshire.

The app, which was created by Stop Hate UK, has an option to report anonymously for those who do not want to be identified.

It has the ability to capture images of incidents, and gives access to advice and information on services.

Supported by funding from West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, it can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play by searching for ‘Stop Hate UK’.