A Muslim family have revealed how they escaped from their hometown in Wales due to the Islamophobic abuse and intimidation they faced.
Ayesha Abdol-Hamid’s parents decided to leave Skewen, Neath Port, for Cardiff when she was a teenager.
She described how the family had to flee their hometown due to a campaign of Islamophobic abuse and intimidation.
Ms Abdol-Hamid told the BBC: “It got really bad – people would come with balaclavas on and surround our house at night.
“There was someone who put a nail through our doorbell; rubbish was dumped in our garden; and we had a very hateful phone call as well.
“My mum received that and we had to call police. That was one of the hardest experiences because it was very aggressive. They just repeated the word ‘Paki’ three times.”
The family moved to Skewen when Ms Abdol-Hamid was six, and it was not long before she became the victim of bullying.
She said: “On the first day of school, I had a black eye from another boy.
“Growing up, I thought it was normal to keep defending myself in fights just because of the colour of my skin.”
The 23-year-old photographer whose mother is Pakistani and father is Welsh explained how the emotional effect of being racially abused as a child was difficult to describe.
She said: “When someone tells you to go back to your own country or calls you a Paki, the hurt … it is so hard to express.
“Someone saying something about you that is about who you are … it’s like questioning your existence.”
“It is really, deeply hurtful. It is worse than if someone physically attacks you.”
Ms Abdol-Hamid’s mother, Shahida Nasreen Khan, explained that it was very upsetting knowing that her daughter and son were being racially abused in school.
Ms Khan told the BBC: “It was really heartbreaking because they are innocent.
“I heard children calling her names from the window.”
In 2010, the family received a threatening phone call and that was when Ms Khan said she “felt we had to run away”.
Both mother and daughter said that despite feeling safer in Cardiff they have noticed an increase in Islamophobia in recent years.
Welsh police have received 63 complaints of anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2018.
Police recorded a 40% rise in hate crime against people in England and Wales because of their religious beliefs, more than half which was aimed at Muslims.