Maz Saleem, whose father was killed by a white terrorist in Birmingham in 2013, says a Somali couple who were assaulted by the racist David Gallacher in Milton Keynes have been failed by the authories.
On 6 August 2016, a pregnant Muslim woman and her husband were brutally attacked by a white racist called David Gallacher. I investigated this horrific attack in September 2016 and I raised questions over the actions of Thames Valley Police, South Central Ambulance Service, Milton Keynes Hospital and the Co-op supermarket.
The information that came to light after my own investigation into this Islamophobic hate crime posed many questions about all of them.
Thames Valley police released the information on this horrific Islamophobic attack eight weeks after it happened. No-one from the Co-op staff initially came out to help, and although the Co-op did eventually call an ambulance it took over an hour and twenty minutes for them to arrive. During this time no one approached the victims to offer them comfort or support.
5Pillars contacted South Central Ambulance Service and they said that the ambulance arrived in 52 minutes but nevertheless apologised for the delay. My sources at the time of the incident also told me that once the woman was taken to hospital she explained that she was pregnant but shockingly still had to wait five hours to be seen.
5Pillars contacted Milton Keynes Hospital for a response at the time and they said patient confidentiality prevents them from discussing specific cases without their explicit permission.
Having spoken in-depth with local Councillor Mohammed Khan at the time of the attack and others who represented the family I strongly feel the institutions that we should trust and rely on let the victim down immensely.
A double injustice
So two crimes were committed that day – one against the family who had their future children’s lives snatched away from them. The parents were abused and assaulted, the father was knocked unconscious. And both were badly beaten in a vicious Islamophobic attack.
The second crime was committed by the authorities and every branch of civil society. Thames Valley Police, South Central Ambulance Service, Milton Keynes Hospital and the Co-op supermarket were all complicit in a failure to register the gravity of the crime and to deal with it in a sympathetic and constructive way.
One only has to think what the newspaper headlines would be if the perpetrator was black, Muslim or brown and had attacked a pregnant woman forcing her to miscarriage and had her husband knocked unconscious with a wine bottle whilst bystanders watched and did nothing.
Every newspaper and every twitter feed would be alive with the story and hashtags would be trending demanding different communities respond and apologise. They all would be held accountable and responsible to explain such viciousness.
In fact the only reason why this case came to prominence is because of campaigners like myself and other anti-racist groups such as Stand up To Racism, who refused to be silent. I believe the authorities sought to cover up the case and use obfuscation. They wanted to hide the truth.
Moreover, the appallingly unequal approach to sentencing in this case shows disregard towards justice. David Gallacher got less than four years in prison for his crime. Longer sentences do not quell the pain of losing a family member or bring justice and closure. There is a need to go beyond old retributive approaches to justice.
One has also to question why someone would receive a sentence so short in comparison to the way people were treated in the London riots in 2011. Stealing a bottle of water got you sent away for 13 months, and putting a comment on Facebook resulted in some receiving a four year sentence.
The racist thug David Gallacher was given bail and was potentially allowed to continue to terrorise the local community in Milton Keynes which could have prevented witnesses from coming forward.
Consider he also attacked the officers who came to arrest him. Gallacher admitted three counts of assaulting a police officer after spitting at cops and trying to bite them, telling them he had hepatitis B as he was arrested. Had this been a black, Muslim or brown person they would have been automatically done for terrorism.
We need to understand that terrorism in the U.K. comes with a white face too. Pavlo Lapshyn, Thomas Mair, Muhsin Ahmed’s killers and David Gallacher. But the media fails to report this accurately. The deafening silence from the media regarding acts of terrorism by white folk on our streets in the UK is unequivocally deplorable.
David Anderson QC reported in the Evening Standard on the 15 Feb 2017 that large number far-right sympathisers were increasing and seeking to target the Muslim community and were a growing threat to everyone.
Islamophobia is not a silent crime – it is a killer. As it was with my father Mohammed Saleem whose life was brutally taken away by Nazi terrorists. The twins that were taken away that night should never be forgotten. Many of these attacks are hidden and don’t make the headlines.
Each crime highlights an increase in the temperature of racist, Islamophobic attacks. We face an epidemic of such attacks and have to identify the source of the contagion. Everyday there is a drip feed of poison demonising the Muslim community coming from the very top. From the likes of Presidents like Donald Trump and hand-holding appeasers like our Prime Minister Theresa May. We need to redouble our efforts and build resistance now.
Yesterday it was my father, today it is the brutal attack on a sister that forces her to lose her twins. Their futures curtailed. Our community is law-abiding, respectful and dignified. But this no longer enough to challenge the unprecedented attacks on our community and especially Muslim women and elderly men.
We have to speak out, stand up and demand justice for those whose voices have been taken away from them. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.