A Muslim student had her face veil ripped off in a racist attack outside a London university, it has been claimed. The woman had joined members of an Islamic Society running a stall outside the Strand campus of King's College London (KCL) as part of Discover Islam awareness week on 4 March.
The group, who were handing out literature, became involved in a 30-minute altercation when two men who approached the stall behaving in a "threatening and abusive" manner towards female Muslim students. The incident allegedly then resulted in one woman's niqab being violently pulled from her face.
Hareem Ghani, a student and friend of the woman allegedly attacked, said: "Two white men approached sisters on the stalls outside Strand and began to verbally assault them. This eventually escalated to physical threats of violence, and a fellow sister had her niqab (full-face veil) pulled off by one of the men."
Ghani and the university's Islamic Society complained the KCL security staff were slow to intervene. The Society has now written an open letter to the principal of King's College London claiming the university had a "double standard" when it dealt with Muslim students and that security only got involved when animal rights activists were also subject to verbal abuse.
The university said in a statement its security called the police at 1.10pm, approximately 10 minutes after its control room was notified of the incident. A statement issued by KCL said: "We are mindful of concerns raised around this incident and would like to reassure our staff and students that the safety and security of our campuses is of the utmost importance.
"The incident is now being investigated by the police, following the arrests made yesterday, and our CCTV footage will be provided as evidence as part of this process. We will continue to support the police in their investigation, which will take precedence over our own proceedings.
"However, we will also be reviewing the incident, including the CCTV evidence, to establish precisely what happened and further improve student safety on campus."
The incident comes as the latest crime stats show a 60% rise in the number of Islamophobic crimes in London over the past two years. Figures from January 2014 to January 2015 saw 667 reported Islamophobic crimes, compared to 1,068 reported the next 12-month period.
A spokesman for the Met Police said two men, aged 39 and 41, had been arrested shortly after the recent incident under the Public Order Act. The pair have been bailed until 2 May.