Police have arrested two men for “using racially aggravated threatening words and behaviour” after a muslim student’s niqab was pulled off outside the King’s College London Strand campus last Friday.
The niqab is a veil worn by some muslim women to cover their whole face except their eyes.
Students have accused security from King’s College London (KCL) of “standing idly by” for twenty minutes and discouraging students from intervening as the incident took place.
Geography MA student Mahamed Abdullahi said “I had to put myself in harms way to protect the Muslim women who were being verbally and physically assaulted after King’s security just stood there and were being non-responsive.”
Fatima Ali who was present when the attacks took place said “security only called the police when the animal rights activists said the men were being aggressive but not when someone complained about a Muslim woman’s niqab being pulled down”.
Eyewitnesses, who wish to remain anonymous, told Roar! that the two men who were arrested approached the Islamic Society stall and began throwing leaflets on the stall before reaching for the Muslim woman’s niqab.
King’s have said in a statement and an email sent to all students that “two security managers and a senior member of staff arrived on the scene and positioned themselves between both parties and attempted to defuse the situation. The two men were asked to leave the area but they refused. The police were called by security at 1.10pm and arrived at 1.50pm.”
However, other eyewitnesses who wished to remain anonymous told Roar! that security guards from King’s went back inside the Strand building after the incident began.
The female Muslim students were outside the Strand campus with stalls as part of the Discover Islam Week initiative organised by KCL Islamic Society.
Discover Islam week is a week long initiative organised by the Islamic Society that aims to dispel the myths and misconceptions the general public have about Islam.
The attack outside the Strand campus comes in the wake of statistics released by the Met Police showing that hate crimes against Muslims in London have risen by 70% in the last year.
Hareem Ghani co-founder of the anti sexual harassment campaign “It Stops Here” said “there is no point for King’s to champion initiatives like ‘It Stops Here’ and commit to stamping out sexual harassment if they cannot extend the same courtesy to Muslim students – especially “visibly” Muslim women who face the brunt of these attacks.”
KCL Islamic Society President Issa Ruhani said “We call for an investigation into this incident. Had this been any other student group, would the response of the College Security be the same? We feel that there has been a failure in the duty of the College to protect students, especially in this climate of widespread Islamophobia and anti-Muslim violence.”
In 2014 the Muslim prayer room signs at Guy’s Campus were defaced but no action was taken by the university due to a lack of evidence.
Following the events on Friday, KCL Islamic Society has written an open letter to the Principal of the College outlining what they believe to be shortcomings in their handling of the incident and the treatment of Muslim students in general.
Open Letter to the Principal of @kingscollegelon about the Islamophobic incident on Friday. https://t.co/7nTn3AlE7b pic.twitter.com/JejMC4ZSZJ
— KCL Islamic Society (@KCLISOC) March 7, 2016