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Muslim women in Camden ‘face abuse on daily basis’

Lib Dem leader says people are frightened by terrorism, extremism and 'white van man with tattoos'

11 April, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Awale Olad speaking at Monday’s meeting

MUSLIM women are abused on a near-daily basis in Camden – and more frequently in the wake of world events such as terrorist attacks like that at Christchurch mosque, the Town Hall chamber was told on Monday night.

The warning came as political rivals united to pass a council policy to crack down on prejudice and discrimination, and fight the rise of far-right views.

All quarters of the chamber voted in favour of a motion which aimed to define Islamophobia, in a similar way to Camden’s decision to adopt a definition of anti-semitism last year.

Labour councillor Awale Olad said: “Muslim women have a lot more difficulty and more incidents to face every single day than anybody else. I often have young Muslim women come to my surgery to tell me that they’ve either been shoved in the streets or they’ve received really awful service in certain places.”

He added: “Generally, they are often targeted and abused, multiple times a day. That needs quite serious focus.”

His colleague, Angela Mason, said: “I have long been concerned that we’ve been underestimating the extent of Islamophobia in Camden, particularly its impact on many Muslim women.”

She added: “As a member of the LGBT+ community I think we have a duty to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Muslim community when they also experience prejudice and discrimination.”

Conservative group leader Oliver Cooper said: “When people change, as worthy as it is, their Facebook profile pictures to a flag for an incident around the world, that solidarity matters but action matters as well.”

He said he wanted the council to “make sure the history of Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities is taught properly in this country. It’s really important to make sure that Muslims are not seen by the majority of people as being ‘others’. They are us.”

Cllr Cooper added: “It’s incredibly important that we teach the history of Yemeni sailors in the British merchant navy, of Bengalis and later Arabs that built Kilburn, Maida Vale and the Edgware Road.”

Lib Dem councillor Tom Simon said: “It [Islamophobia] is a hideous monster which seems to be emboldened at the moment, increasingly so in these times which are somewhat uncertain.”

Fear of ‘white van man with tattoos’

LIBERAL Democrat leader Flick Rea warned that people were scared of “white van man with his tattoos” in an angry speech about the state of the nation at Monday’s meeting.

She was telling the chamber how she believes that the Conservative government has been “complacent” about knife crime and rising tensions.

Cllr Rea – one of the longest-serving councillors – said: “What is going on today is a terrible, terrible state of this nation, in every single way: where people are frightened to go out, where people are frightened to speak their mind, where there is racism, whether it’s intolerance, whether it’s terrorism, whether it be from the thugs in Whitehall – white van man with his tattoos – or whether it be more subtle.”

“People are scared and frightened of what the future holds, whether you are young or old. You are frightened about what’s in store for them.”

She said the government had to show responsibility. “It’s just complacent. I don’t understand it,” she added.

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