Capturing Islamophobia…On Film

A video has gone viral which shows a man verbally abusing a Muslim woman in a corner shop. While the police treat the incident as Islamophobic hate crime, Rising East interviewed the woman with camera in hand, Ahlam Saed, about filming the abusive incident and the decision to post the video online.

The young woman was wearing the niqab when the suspect called her Batman. He made the remark to his two young daughters, but he must have known that others could hear it. Assuming she could not understand English, the man continued to mock the victim, asking his daughters to guess whether she was male or female. When bystander Ahlam Saed confronted the man, he did not back down.  At which point she took out a camera and informed the man she was filming him. This led to further abuse, directed mainly at Saed.

Her video shows the man ranting for over five minutes. Angry at what she had experienced, Saed posted the video online, admitting she does not have many followers and that she was surprised when she woke up the next day to see the video had gone viral.

This is her assessment of what it all means.

How do you feel about experiencing such hatred in your own neighbourhood?

“I have lived in the area my whole life, I even recognise the man’s face, it’s sad to think people like this are out there anywhere in the world, let alone your local area.”

What made you decide to film the suspect?

“I filmed him to show the world what type of person he is, to highlight the type of hatred that is out there and to warn people so they can keep safe, so the same thing that happened to me won’t happen to them.”

It is clear from the video that it was a very heated altercation. How did you manage to keep control of your actions while facing such hostility?

“Honestly, I just chose to be the bigger person.”

Has the incident led to you feeling unsafe in your everyday life?

“I wouldn’t say I feel unsafe but I’m definitely more wary of my surroundings.”

How do you feel about the crazy response your video received after going viral?

“I really did not expect to get that many views. I was flooded with supportive messages and that was a really nice thing to see. It shows you not everyone is as ignorant.”

With so many reports of Islamophobic hate crimes, what advice would you give to young Muslims?

“I would tell them to be very aware of your surroundings, especially women as so many attacks are taking place. And if you do ever experience such hate crime please report it and make sure these people are punished, no one should be abused because of their religion or how they choose to dress.”

Ahlam Saed was talking to Hanna Gelana