Hasina, a project manager in Bristol, was subjected to a terrifying, unprovoked attack in the city centre in broad daylight.
She has bravely shared her story to help encourage others to report hate crime, get the support they need and ensure they do not suffer in silence.
“Having been born and raised in Bristol, I have many times throughout my life experienced hostility and racism, from being called ‘Paki’ in the street to having alcohol thrown at me,” said Hasina.
“Every time there is aggression towards Muslims outside of the UK, I experience aggression from within the UK. It’s a reality that we have somehow accepted. But nothing could have prepared me for what happened one Monday morning.”
Hasina, 36, was walking to work through Cabot Circus one morning when suddenly a man came charging towards her with such aggression she thought he was going to punch her in the face. Instead, he lunged forward and spat in her face.
“I was in utter shock at what was happening,” says Hasina. “He continued to aggressively rant at me and said something along the lines of ‘your people are killing’ and something about the ‘Middle East’ and ‘killing Christians’. He spat at me again, it was terrifying I thought he was going to attack me at any second.
“Then my defence mechanism just kicked in and I started to shout at him. I then shouted at the onlookers for not helping me and it felt like the whole of Cabot Circus was covered by my voice.
“I cannot make sense of what he was saying or anyway reconcile in my mind why he attacked me, but it is clear that I was targeted because I am a Muslim woman.
“I have read so many reports that hate crime towards Muslim women is on the increase in the UK but nothing really prepares you for what to do if it happens to you and how humiliating, terrifying and dirty it makes you feel.
“I continued to walk to work, tears streaming, I just wanted to wash myself. It wasn’t until I saw myself in the mirror in the toilet at work that I saw the spit all over my Hijab and it had seeped through to my underscarf too. I immediately began to wash my headscarf, I was in a total state and very upset and angry at what had happened to me.
“I called the police and they said they would visit to take a statement. I said I was happy for them to interview me at my place of work, after all I had done nothing wrong, why should I hide away? This is a reality that happens to Muslim women on an ongoing basis, people need to know that this is real.
“The policewoman who interviewed me said they could have used the spit on the scarf as DNA. It’s difficult to think practically after being assaulted, but is important Muslim women consider gathering evidence should they be victim of attack like mine.
“I have always thought of Bristol as a wonderful city, a city of sanctuary and one that prides itself of its rich multi-cultural diversity. We really need our so-called leaders to be very vocal about attacks on Muslims to de-legitimise them, no excuses, no trying to justify.”
Hasina contacted Tell Mama, an organisation that measures anti-Muslim hate crime attacks and provides support.
The perpetrator who assaulted Hasina pleaded guilty to racially or religiously aggravated common assault at Bristol Magistrates’ Court and was convicted.