13 Feb 2017

Concern attacks on Muslims go unreported

10:50 am on 13 February 2017
A screenshot of the video Mehpara Khan posted to Twitter.

A screenshot of the video Mehpara Khan posted to Twitter. Photo: Screenshot / @Mehparak

Islamic New Zealander Mehpara Khan and her friends, who are also Muslim and were wearing hijabs, had stopped in Huntly on Saturday when a woman yelled racial slurs at them and threw beer cans.

Ms Khan took a video of the incident and posted it on social media.

Police arrested a 27-year-old woman, who is due to appear in the Hamilton District Court today on charges of assault, assault with a weapon and offensive language.

Federation president Hazim Arafeh said he had been shocked and stunned by the incident.

Mr Arafeh said he thought it was an isolated case - but he was concerned similar things could often go unreported.

"We'll be talking to Islamic Associations around the country to get them to urge members of the public to come forward and speak if they such an experience," he said.

Ms Khan said the last time something similar had happened to her - a couple of years ago at a fast food restaurant where a man started shouting abuse at her - she had done nothing and this time she had decided to take action.

She said some good had come from the experience.

"It has started a national conversation not just within our own community but within New Zealand as a whole," she said.

"And beyond that the feedback that I have received is 'what can we do about it now', and I think the best thing is to show support through your community."

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