, 19 December 2016, Tags:
A response to the Chingford Hijab Attack from Rebecca Tully, joint coordinator of Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party.
Waltham Forest is now one of the most culturally diverse boroughs in London, and as such it can be rightly proud that despite, or even because of this, a strong community spirit is emerging. As someone who has been actively working alongside local Muslim women to tackle racism, I was utterly sickened by last week's attack at Chingford Mount. There can be only two words to describe this hate-fuelled attack: 'bullying' and 'cowardly'. Sadly, such crimes upon women are neither isolated, nor are they new.
Hate crime isn't simply comprised of openly physical or verbal abuse. It can take less obvious forms, such as a shop assistant's silent refusal to serve a targeted customer. I know of a local Muslim woman who waited patiently to be served at a beauty bar for several minutes. After watching a number of others jump the queue, it slowly dawned on her that the lack of service was directly related to her wearing of the hijab. Reporting her treatment to customer service elicited an apology and a promise to discipline the staff involved. However, the woman has simply decided not to return to the store in future. If hate crimes large and small result in women retreating more and more to the relative safety of their own homes, this is a wholly unacceptable outcome. Many women fail to report these more subtle forms of discrimination. With the marked rise in such crimes since the EU referendum, it is a legitimate concern that they do not pass under the official radar: they must be reported and logged.
We are working on an information card on combating hate crime which will be useful to anyone - those targeted, but also people who can report on their behalf. People need to know that they are not alone. Racists are currently in the minority, but such attitudes are sadly contagious – we need to come together to demonstrate this openly to our community and encourage people to speak out.
Joint Coordinator, Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party