Police Scotland have been accused of failing to investigate a violent racist attack on an Asian Muslim taxi driver.
Mohammed Afzal, 36, says he feared for his life after being assaulted by three white men in a Glasgow pub, who racially abused him.
Mr Afzal said the police took 41 days to respond after he initially reported the crime and kept asking him why he thought the attack was “racist.”
The Scottish Ethnic Private Hire Welfare Association (SEPHWA) claimed police do not do enough to protect drivers from racist abuse and harassment in Scotland’s largest city.
Mr Afzal’s solicitor, Aamer Anwar wrote to Chief Constable Sir Stephen House questioning numerous aspects of the investigation, stating that the police did not take the incident seriously.
Mr Afzal was working when he was called to a job at La Cala bar, in Dennistoun, on 24 May, at 10pm.
After a brief conversation with one of the perpetrators confirming that he was the taxi driver, the man punched him in the head and face and racially abused him.
Mr Afzal said: “I ran outside the bar. There were two guys at the door. They said, ‘Are you going to call the police?’ I said, ‘No.’
“I went towards my car but they started punching and kicking me. The other guy joined in again.”
Mr Afzal described how he feared for his life whilst the men continuously racially abused him and threatened to kill him. The men eventually left and he climbed into his car and immediately phoned the police.
To his amazement, the perpetrators got into another vehicle and drove it straight into the front of his. After the collision he drove off but they pursued him, he said, swerving their vehicle into his.
Mr Afzal was taken to hospital but only suffered minor injuries. He has been too afraid to work since the incident. He said: “I’m afraid and upset and I don’t know what is going to happen to me. I’m really scared at the moment.”
Letter to the police
In a letter to Police Scotland, Mr Anwar highlighted a number of concerns, including that no CID officers were involved in the investigation.
He also asked when CCTV was retrieved, why the police had not contacted Mr Afzal and failed to give him a crime reference number, and why they asked him why he thought the attack was “racist”.
Mr Anwar said: “Police Scotland have, at best, failed in their duty of care to the victim and, at worst, are guilty of institutional racism and systematic failure to investigate a serious crime of assault.”
However, a Police Scotland spokesman said it takes all hate crime seriously and promised to investigate the alleged assault thoroughly.
Muhammed Hussain from Preston, who had been in the taxi trade for 10 years was punched, spat at on his face and his car damaged last year when he asked for his fare of £4.50 from a group of two white males and a female.
His attackers threatened to kill him, called him a “Paki” and said they’d “chop his beard off”. The perpetrators were charged with racially aggravated assault and criminal damage, and imprisoned for two years.
Mr Hussain said to 5 Pillarz: “I was attacked for being visibly Muslim. I have been a taxi driver for over 10 years, and attacks like this have increased.
“If a Muslim can’t wear a mosque hat or keep a beard out of fear of being attacked whilst working, what kind of life is this?”
The Department for Transport’s National Taxi and Private Hire Statistics 2011 recorded 299,200 taxi drivers in Britain. And after a comparison with the National Census statistics for 2011, the total number of Muslim taxi drivers in Britain was estimated at 85,485.
One in seven are of Pakistani ethnicity, one in eight are of Bangladeshi ethnicity and two in seven cab drivers in the UK are Muslim. The majority of Muslim taxi drivers are located in London, West Yorkshire, the Midlands and the South East.