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UK police investigating 'corona cough attack' on Muslim woman

Police are investigating the incident which took place in 18th March [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 April, 2020

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A Muslim woman said she was coughed on, threatened with coronavirus and verbally assaulted while walking down a high street in south London.
London's Metropolitan Police are investigating an assault on a Muslim woman in which a man coughed in her face, told her he had the coronavirus and called her a "raghead" after she challenged him.

The woman, who is white and wears a hijab, anonymously told Islamophobia watchdog Tell MAMA of her ordeal, saying that she tried to avoid the man as she walked down a high street in south London on 18th March, but he still managed to cough in her face.

She subsequently informed the man that she had already had Covid-19 so she was immune, which prompted him to swear at her and use the racial slur "raghead".

The woman said the attack by the man, who she identified as white and in his mid-to-late-thirties, left her feeling anxious and fearful of a repeat attack, but added that the lockdown had made her feel more safe.

Tell MAMA reiterated the racist nature of the attack, releasing a statement saying: "This assault demonstrates how the racialisation of Muslims and their religious clothing, harms all Muslims, irrespective of their ethnicity."

"The gendered nature of this abuse and violence demonstrates the intersecting influence of misogyny, given the gendered stereotypes of Muslim women who wear the hijab (or other forms of religious clothing) as being ‘meek and submissive'," it added.

Islamophobia in the UK has risen sharply since the 2017 terror attacks in London and Manchester, according to the Muslim News.

Comment: How hate crimes data can help save lives

Last December, a 40-year-old woman was let off with a caution after strangling a Muslim schoolgirl with her headscarf while on a bus in Sheffield.

In its 2018 report, Tell MAMA identified two significant spikes of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the country. The first occured after "Punish a Muslim Day" letters sent were sent to Muslim homes, institutions, and places of work in March of that year.

A second and more significant uptick occurred in August after then-forign secretary and current Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote a newspaper column referring to veiled Muslim women as "letterboxes" and "bank-robbers". In the week following his article, anti-Muslim incidents increased by 375 percent.

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