A young Kiwi woman who was subject to a racial attack says she’s been flooded with messages of support.
Mehpara Khan said on Sunday morning she was “over run” with positive messages after she and her Muslim friends were targets of foul-mouthed racist comments at a rest stop in the Waikato town of Huntly.
“So good to know that we as Kiwis don’t accept this as our NZ,” Khan tweeted. The woman who attacked Khan and her friends in Huntly was identified by police. Senior Sergeant Pete van de Wetering said officers had identified the woman and were attempting to find her.
Efforts to locate her on Saturday night were unsuccessful, he said. Khan recorded the incident on her cellphone when she and four Muslim friends stopped for a break in Huntly on their way back to Auckland.
The 28-year-old corporate communications consultant said they had been travelling back from a trip to New Plymouth when two of their group needed a toilet stop. “Two of the group went to the bathroom, the rest of us got out of the car to stretch our legs and were standing by the car,” on State Highway 1 next to the Waikato River.
“All of a sudden this woman comes out of the bathroom and starts swearing at us and telling us that we don’t belong there and that we are Muslim b……, that need to F-off, basically,” said Khan.
The woman threw a beer can at Khan and her two friends. “At this point I decided to start filming her. We couldn’t leave because our friends were still in the bathroom.” The rest is captured in the video Khan recorded on her cellphone and posted to Twitter. Van de Wetering said it is unfortunate that someone would act in such a disrespectful manner. “It was an unprovoked act and we will endeavour to locate the woman and bring this to a speedy resolution.”
The woman who carried out the attack is shown in the recording ordering Khan and her friends to get back in their car, then throws a beer can at her. “Get in your f…… car, hurry up – do you not understand?” When the woman realises she is being recorded, she approaches Khan and tries to hit her. “Are you recording, you f……, stupid b….. Get the f… off,” she shouts.
“Hey, I was born here, I’ve got the right to be here,” Khan replied. “F… off, I don’t care if you were born here – you don’t have the right to be here, I was f…… born here, I own the f…… land; now get the f… off – you ugly f…… b…..” The woman’s tirade continued before she threw beer at Khan and her friends.
Who said islamophobia doesn’t exist. This just happened in Huntley. I’m shaking. pic.twitter.com/yoVMNON1rA
— Mehpara Khan (@MehparaK) February 11, 2017
Khan said the abuser also took a swing at her, which she was able to block. When she took another swing, her friend blocked it. “She threw another beer can at us, which missed, thankfully, but now I stink like beer. I’m sticky and it’s not great – especially considering we don’t drink,” she added. Khan said the woman eventually walked away, but she came back as the group of women were securely in their car.
“We locked the doors and were about to back out when the woman returned and tried to get into the car and started slamming on the windows.” Eventually a man approached the attacker and tried to calm her down.
Once the group arrived back in Auckland, they lodged a complaint with the police in Manakau. “We had only intended to stop for two minutes.” Khan added. She said it wasn’t the first time she’d been abused for being Muslim. She’d been yelled at in a McDonald’s once and decided to do nothing about it. “That was in the back of my head when I decided to film it this time.”
Khan says anti-Islamic sentiment is on the rise. “This type of fear and reaction is happening more and more across New Zealand. “I don’t know why she felt more entitled to be there than I was, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter – we all deserve to be in this country.” “We all have the right to be at a public toilet in Huntly.”
Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy agrees. “Muslim women and youngsters tell us they are increasingly targeted by strangers. This is not the New Zealand I love,” Dame Susan said.
“We need to stand up for others and let them know they’re not alone. We need to let those who think they can attack innocent people that we will not let them normalise hatred.” Khan added that while she was shaken by the attack, but said the recording had garnered enormous support online. “We’ve had strangers reaching out, they don’t accept this behaviour in New Zealand and it’s not representative of us.”
Representative of the Islamic Women’s Council Anjum Rahman said she was disappointed by the attack, but not surprised. “Muslim women are often the ones who bear the brunt of attacks by strangers in public places.
“We would be happy to meet with the young woman in the video, to have a dialogue about our contributions to New Zealand,” said Rahman.
The group condemned all forms of racism and hope action would be taken in this case and Rahman urged people to report incidents of racial abuse and violence.
Source: Stuff NZ