‘No place’ for racism in Bexhill

Paul Courtel, PCSO Victoria Renel, Ritha Ahmed, PC Jason Kemp, PCSO Neil Holden and Councillor Abul Azad
Paul Courtel, PCSO Victoria Renel, Ritha Ahmed, PC Jason Kemp, PCSO Neil Holden and Councillor Abul Azad

Fighting racism and religious abuse has been made a priority in Bexhill after Muslim residents shared their accounts of being stalked and abused.

The January meeting of the Bexhill Central Neighbourhood Police Panel heard from a woman who had been repeatedly abused for wearing her traditional Muslim dress, the hijab head scarf.

Ritha Ahmed has reportedly been stalked by a woman who told her to ‘abide by British laws’.

Ritha posted details of the incidents on a Bexhill Facebook page resulting in scores of messages of support from the public.

On another occasion, a father reportedly encouraged his child, who was riding a bicycle, to run her over during a racist four-letter tirade.

Bexhill Central councillor Abul Azad, who raised the issue via email, also recalled an incident where two visiting Imams were screamed at for wearing traditional dress and branded ‘terrorists’.

The Bexhill Central Neighbourhood Policing Panel condemned the incidents, making made anti-social and racist behaviour a police priority in Central ward for the next two months.

Panel chairman Yolanda Laybourne said: “Racial or religious abuse is totally unacceptable and should never be tolerated.

“It has no place in Bexhill, or in the United Kingdom.”

The panel commended Ritha, who attended the meeting, for highlighting the issue.

Ritha said: “Diversity should be celebrated and not ridiculed.

“It’s unacceptable to be abused for dressing differently.

“Anyone who is being abused for whatever reason should report it to the police.

“We are entitled to live in peace. So live and let live.”

In a joint statement, Bexhill Police race relations officers PC Kemp and PCSO Neil Holden said: “We are aware of the current case with Ritha and investigations are ongoing.

“We urge anyone who feels they are a victim of hate crime to get in touch and talk to us.

“We can help, but no one should suffer in silence.”

Cllr Azad added: “Bexhill has always been a town with good community spirit where multiculturalism has been honoured and respected.

“We will work closely with our residents to maintain this goodness.

“Bexhill has no place for discrimination and if issues do arise we need to tackle them together.

“Should any individual or group be a victim of hate crime, do not suffer in silence.

“Contact Sussex Police who are always willing to help.”

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