IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Islington schoolgirl vows: We will not take off hijabs

‘Respect a Muslim’ rally, held outside the Town Hall, hears teenager’s defiant cry

06 April, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Aisha Bounnik addressing the rally on the Town Hall steps

A DEFIANT Islington schoolgirl has told a rally she’s not afraid to wear her hijab.

Speaking at a protest condemning social media posts that threaten Muslim women, Aisha Bounnik, 14, said some of her friends had been nervous after seeing racist letters circulating on the web calling for April 3 to be “Punish a Muslim day”.

They gave a points system for violent acts and the letters were posted to people in London, Yorkshire and Leicestershire.

The source of the messages is now being investigated by counter-terrorism police.

Residents, councillors and unions held a “Respect a Muslim” rally on the steps of the Town Hall on Tuesday.

Aisha, who attends St Mary Magdalene Academy in Liverpool Road, told the Tribune after the protest: “At first I thought the letter was a joke, as I thought: Who could be so horrible to do this?

“We will not take off our hijabs to feel safe. With them on we feel more safe.”

Mohammed Kozbar, chair of Finsbury Park Mosque, target of a terrorist attack last year, said: “Coming together means we are all in solidarity. We are a resilient community and we won’t allow this [racism] to happen.

“But this has to stop. Something has to be done. Normalising Islamophobia is not acceptable anymore.

“If you want to reassure the community that they are part of this society and that they will be protected, we need to reassure them by bringing these perpetrators to justice.”

He called on the government to consider giving more resources to help counter-terrorism police investigate hate crimes.

Imam Ajmal Masroor told the rally: “I have a young daughter and she tells me that she is still very frightened of going out in the street.

“I have a wife who wears a hijab, I have got a mother who wears a hijab, I’ve got a sister who wears a hijab. When they go outside in the street, I often wonder what kind of hate crime they face. Ladies and gentlemen, you’ll never know unless you wear a hijab one day.”

Similar protests, organised by Stand Up To Racism, were held across the country.

Holloway councillor Rakhia Ismail, whose husband Yassin Hersi was injured in the Finsbury Park Mosque van attack last year, also addressed the crowd.

Town Hall finance chief Andy Hull urged residents to report hate crime to police.

“The police do take it seriously,” he said. “If you suffer a hate crime, make sure you report it so we can bring these offenders to justice.”

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