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UK police hunt killers after British-Lebanese Muslim woman is murdered in drive-by shooting

A murder investigation was launched by British police [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 May, 2020

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Aya Hachem was shot dead by an unidentified assailant on Sunday afternoon, according to local reports.
A murder investigation was launched by British police on Monday after a 19-year-old British-Lebanese Muslim woman was shot dead by an unknown assailant in the north of England, reports confirmed.

The shocking murder, which was believed to be a drive-by shooting, took place at 3pm in Blackburn, a northwest town.

Hijab-wearing Aya Hachem was reportedly en route to a local store for her mother when a gun was fired from a passing vehicle.

She was found "unresponsive" when armed police arrived on the scene and Hachem later died in hospital.

Police have said a light coloured or metallic green Toyota Avensis that was seen leaving the area after the attack. A vehicle fitting this description was later found, empty of its occupants.

"An investigation has been launched and we are determined to find those responsible - and we are asking for the public's help identifying the offender or offenders," Lancashire Police said.

"We believe a light-colored Toyota Avensis - possibly metallic green - may have been involved in the incident. A car matching the same description has since been recovered from nearby Wellington Road and we are now asking anybody who saw a car matching this description in either location to get in touch as soon as possible."

Detective Superintendent Jonathan Holmes of the Force Major Investigation Team, said: "This is a truly shocking and senseless killing which has robbed a young woman of her life."

The shooting took place during the holy month of Ramadan with friends saying Aya was involved in charity and volunteer work.

Within 24 hours of her death, mourners raised £27,000 to build a mosque in her memory in Niger.

Police have not revealed a motive for her murder but are not yet treating it as terrorist related.

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

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.

Read also: Of course Muslims are staying home this Ramadan, so spare us the extra scrutiny

More recently, British counter-terrorism police are investigating reports about far-right groups attempting to stoke anti-Muslim sentiments amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In March, The New Arab reported that videos were being circulated online falsely claiming that British-Muslims were endangering public safety by attending mosque despite the coronavirus pandemic.


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