VICTORIA – Three young Muslim schoolgirls were left terrified after a gang of youth attacked them, tearing down their hijab and hurling racial abuses at them, in what was described as a “disturbing and brazen” Islamophobic attack.
“I’m so scared, and my mum’s scared too,” Aima Sadiq-Ali, 10-year-old schoolgirl, told SBS on Thursday, March 31.
The attack occurred a week ago when 10-year-old Aima Sadiq-Ali, 12-year-old Walija Iqbalali, and Nadia Ali-Ahmad, 15, were playing in a Geelong park.
According to the girls, a group of boys and girls approached and hurled racial abuses at them.
“They said go back to your country. I’m gonna f*** your mum, like rude words.” Aima Sadiq-Ali told Channel Seven.
“They’re saying our scarf (is) poo, (they were) saying ‘get off your poo’.”
Walija Iqbalali said her foot was heavily bruised as the gang repeatedly punched and kicked them, and then pelted them with rocks.
“One of the little girls, she was like seven years old, and she was filling her socks with rocks and hitting us,” Ms Iqbalali said to Channel Seven.
“I couldn’t even control myself as I was really upset,” Nadia Ali-Ahmad added.
They then proceeded to forcibly rip off Aima and Nadia’s hijabs, which caused grazing to Aima’s neck.
A parent of one in the gang arrived only to hurl more abuses to girls.
“They hit us, and their mum is like saying rude words to us to ‘go back to your country, go back to your country,’” she said.
When the young girls tried to escape and call police, Aima’s mobile phone was taken off her and smashed into pieces.
The vicious attack was immediately condemned by Victoria Police as depressing and alarming, saying they are hunting the group of “about ten youths”, aged between seven and 16.
“It is a sickening attack. It’s extremely alarming. They’re young girls, they should be able to go to a local park and enjoy the outdoors, enjoy the community, without being subjected to this kind of behaviour,” acting Senior Sergeant Jonathan Parish said.
“They certainly have the right to practice their faith and be safe and secure whilst doing so.”
Islamophobia Register Australia president Mariam Veiszadeh has also released a statement on the group’s Facebook page lamenting the fact that the “disturbing and brazen” attack on the three girls was part of a wider trend.
“The news of this incident comes amidst a global political landscape in which Islamophobia is becoming increasingly mainstream so people feel more emboldened to engage in a manner that is prejudicial towards Muslims and in this case, against children,” she said.
“We are currently in the process of working with a number of academics to analyze over 12 months worth of data from the Islamophobia Register Australia in an endeavor to publish a Final Findings Report later this year which aims to shed light on the trends we are seeing in our data.
“Many incidents like this continue to go unreported. Please help us, protect our communities by reporting any such incidents to Police and to us at the Register.”