29 September 2017

The Far-Reaching Effects of Hate Crime Should Not Be Ignored

"I keep wondering if my life will ever be the same."

Racially or religiously aggravated hate crime is a growing problem in parts of the UK. A lot of it seems to be linked to terror attacks: After the Westminster attack last March, where five people were tragically murdered, Craig Mackey, the acting Commissioner of the MET police, said that the force had observed an “uplift” in the number of anti-Muslim attacks.

The Greater Manchester Police reported a staggering 500 percent increase in Islamophobic hate crime reports in the month following the Manchester Arena attack in which 22 people were killed by a terrorist. Plus, figures released following the London Bridge attack (where eight people lost their lives) demonstrated a massive surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes.

Following the Finsbury Park terror attack in June, when a far-right lunatic ploughed a van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers killing one and injuring 11, the chairman of the mosque told VICE News that they received a string of horrendously threatening letters. One opened with: “The attack using the van was only the beginning.” Even the MET police have recently reported a 50 percent increase in hate crimes against their officers.

So, what does all this mean? Some people have argued that these stats could indicate a trend where victims feel more comfortable reporting hate crimes against them­ – perhaps due to a nationwide crackdown on these types of crimes. But other, more cynical folk, think that it could be an indication that ISIS have become a step closer to achieving their overall aim of dividing us and undermining our society.

In order to glean a wider perspective of how these types of crime affect the victims, we looked at three online accounts from people who have been on the receiving end of hate crimes.

Nasser, Manchester

Credit: BBC/Screengrab

Nasser Kurdy, a Muslim surgeon who was hailed a hero after the Manchester Arena bomb because he immediately rushed to the operating theatre to save lives, was stabbed in the neck last week in what the police are describing as a hate crime.

The 58-year-old orthopedic consultant was attacked from behind in a cowardly and unprovoked manner as he walked into an Islamic centre in south Manchester. After suffering a three-centimeter gash to the back of his neck, he was taken to the hospital where he works and seems to be making a full recovery.

“God was merciful to me yesterday,” he told the BBC. “It could have been a nerve, an artery, a vein, the gullet. The neck is the contact between the body and your head, but fortunately it was just the muscle.”

He has described how the incident and incidents like it have created a climate of fear amongst his community. “The climate is very threatening, very worrying,’ he says. “Something could have happened, horrible, yesterday. The atmosphere that is around has allowed for that.”

Alexandra, Leeds

Credit: Channel 4/Screengrab

Last year, a Polish NHS worker named Alexandra, who has called Yorkshire her home since she was a child, was interviewed by Channel 4 News about the xenophobic abuse she had received in her hometown of Armley, Leeds.

“We’ve had stones thrown at our windows,” she explained. “And I’ve been sworn at many times.” Shockingly, during the interview about the abuse, a group of passersby can be heard loudly calling the young woman a “f***ing Polish grass” and a “grassy f***”.

The whole incident was captured on tape, and the effects of the abuse are clearly etched on Alexandra’s face. Visibly distressed, she told the reporter how this type of behaviour makes her feel: “When you get home and something like this happens it breaks your heart,” she says. “It makes me feel like I am just not wanted here.” The irony of recording racist abuse during an interview about the effects of racist abuse should not be lost on us.

She added: “I don’t feel safe anymore.”

Resham, London

Credit: Resham Khan/Instagram

Resham Khan, a 21-year-old student, and her cousin were sat in a car in east London last June when acid was thrown at them through the windows. The man who committed this hate crime, 25-year-old John Tomlin, has been charged with grievous bodily harm with intent and remanded into custody.

Shortly after the religiously-motivated assault, the uni student and aspiring model wrote a blog in which she opened up about the effect that the attack, which left her unexpectedly and permanently changed, had on her.

“My plans are in pieces; my pain is unbearable, and I write this letter in hospital whilst I patiently wait for the return of my face,” she wrote in an open letter following the sickening assault.

“I’m devastated,” she tweeted after the event. “I keep wondering if my life will ever be the same. The police officer is certain that [the attacker] will be found and sent away for a long time. But what about my face? That is forever.”

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Despite the fact that committing these crimes achieves absolutely nothing at all, they clearly have long-lasting and far-reaching implications for the victims. Whilst many physical injuries can heal in time, psychological scars often take longer.

Have you been a victim of a hate crime? Click here for more information on how to report it or access support services available to you.

Featured image credit: Resham Khan/Instagram

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