Teenager jailed for trying to take off Muslim mother’s hijab as a prank

The Thistles shopping centre in Stirling.

A drunken teenager who tried ripping a Muslim woman’s hijab off as she shopped with her mother and baby has been jailed, the STV reports.

Leighton MacKenzie, 18, sneaked up behind Ghader Mashhadi as she walked through the Thistles mall in Stirling, and tried to take off her religious hijab.

Stirling Sheriff Court heard that MacKenzie, who admitted assault aggravated by racial prejudice, claimed his actions were “just a prank”.

Lindsey Brooks, prosecuting, said the incident occurred at 2.45pm on 18 April 2016.

Mrs Brooks said Ms Mashhadi, 27, was with her 50-year-old mother, and was pushing her baby in a pram.

The depute fiscal said: “She felt her Muslim headscarf being pulled and turned and saw the accused, who was with another male, who were laughing together, and at her.

“She was upset, and felt it was disrespectful to her religion.”

Ms Mashhadi contacted security guards in the shopping centre, and staff checked CCTV.

Out of three CCTV cameras, one had caught the incident on video.

MacKenzie, who could be seen in the footage committing the offence, was traced a week later.

He told police it had been “a prank” and added: “It was stupid, aye.”

MacKenzie of Keir Avenue, Raploch, Stirling, pleaded guilty to assaulting Ms Mashhadi by seizing her by the hijab and attempting to remove it, all aggravated by religious prejudice.

Defence solicitor Frazer McCready said MacKenzie “did not consider himself to be a racist” despite his guilty plea.

Mr McCready said: “He says he’d had a wee bit to drink.

“He is clearly an immature young man who is easily influenced when either with friends or intoxicated.

“He had been with friends in the Thistles Centre. They were larking about, as young men sometimes do at that age, and it would appear he was dared by one of his friends to carry out this act.

“At the time it was meant to be funny. It was meant to be a joke. He regrets and accepts that it was clearly disrespectful to the complainer and her religion.”

The court heard that MacKenzie was already serving a sentence at Polmont Young Offenders’ Institution in Stirlingshire after pleading guilty last week to breaching several community payback orders.

Sheriff Richard McFarlane sentenced MacKenzie to nine weeks’ youth custody, reduced from three months on account of his guilty plea.

He said: “It was wholly obvious what this lady was wearing and why she was wearing it.”

He added: “You are sadly a stark example of youths who drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol and get into trouble time and time again.”

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