UK: Arrest made in racist attack on pregnant woman

Police arrest 37-year-old man in connection to a racist attack on pregnant woman that caused her to miscarry.

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The man made 'racial remarks' to the pregnant woman before following her outside and kicking her in the stomach [File: EPA]

A man has been arrested in connection with a racially motivated attack on a pregnant woman last month in the UK, which caused her to miscarry. 

The 34-year-old woman was verbally abused with “racial remarks” while shopping at a supermarket in the town of Bletchley, north of London, on August 6, police said on Wednesday.

The man then followed the woman out into a parking lot where he physically attacked her, kicking her in the torso and knocking her to the ground.

She was later rushed to the nearby Milton Keynes General Hospital, and treated for repeated blows to the abdomen, but doctors were unable to save the baby. It was unclear how far along she was in her pregnancy. 

“The … victim was pregnant and as a result of the assault she lost her baby,” police said.

A 40-old-man who tried to intervene oh behalf of the woman was hit over the head with a bag of ice and a bottle.

Thames Valley Police confirmed to Al Jazeera that a 37-year-old man was taken into custody on Wednesday in connection with the incident. 

Witnesses told UK media that the woman was “Middle Eastern in appearance” and wore a headscarf, but a police spokesman refused to comment on the victim.

‘Religious hate crimes rising’

The attack comes shortly after the UK’s National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) confirmed a surge in xenophobic attacks across the country in the aftermath of the June 23 referendum to leave the EU, known as Brexit. 

According to the NPCC, racist and xenophobic attacks increased by 58 percent in the month following the Brexit vote, and although they abated slightly in August, hate crimes were still 14 percent higher than in the same period in 2015. 

Harun Khan, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that while the “spike” in the number of xenophobic attacks may be related to the Brexit vote, it is connected to a “growing undercurrent of anti-Muslim sentiments” across the country.

“There are lots of stories about people being attacked and abused – mainly vulnerable people, like women wearing the hijab and the elderly. They are being targeted more often,” he told Al Jazeera.

Shenaz Bunlawala, head of research at the UK-based Muslim Engagement and Development advocacy group, agreed.

The post-Brexit uptick can be viewed only “within the backdrop of racial and religious hate crimes rising year-on-year for the past three years”, Bunlawala told Al Jazeera.

According to Bunlawala, religious hate crimes jumped by 45 percent from 2013 to 2014, and by 43 percent from 2014 to 2015. 

Khan, whose parents migrated from Bangladesh, said that as his three teenage daughters grow up and move on to further their education, he has increasing concerns for their safety. 

“This is my country, just like it is anyone else’s. My children are third-generation. They don’t see themselves as anything but British and English … They don’t know anything else. This is their home; their home is here in Britain.

“But as they head off to university, with all these attacks, their safety will be a growing concern for me.”

Last week, a Polish man in the northern city of Leeds was left hospitalised after being beaten by a group of 20 youths in what police described as a  racially motivated attack, the latest in a series of post-Brexit hate crimes against Poles in the UK.

Following the attack, the Polish embassy said it was “saddened by another assault” on one of its citizens in the UK, where there have been around 30 “xenophobic incidents” in recent months.

In late August, a 40-year-old Polish man was murdered in a suspected hate crime in Essex.

Source: Al Jazeera