A Muslim mother, travelling on a bus with her young son in London, was subjected to repeated taunts and abuse by a group of children who made references to grenades and explosions.
The incident occurred on September 3.
Speaking to Tell MAMA, the mother, who consented to have her story told anonymously, described how a group of six children, sat close to them throughout their journey, said “she’s gonna blow”, “we’re gonna strap that baby to a grenade”, and other Islamophobic comments.
She felt targeted due to her ethnicity and hijab, adding that she was the only Muslim woman on that journey who was wearing Islamic clothing.
The abuse escalated when each child shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they exited the bus.
Last year, Tell MAMA documented how a male student at a school in the West Midlands had refused to apologise to a female Muslim student after he had shouted: “Allahu Akbar” having earlier thrown an object against a wall, arguing that this ‘was the language of “Muslim terrorists”’ which caused her a great deal of upset.
In Islam, the phrase “Allahu Akbar”, known as takbir, alludes to the greatness of God. Moreover, it forms part of the call to prayer and is a phrase that is of intrinsic importance to Muslims. As Arsalan Iftikhar has argued, the phrase “is the rhetorical equivalent of the English phrase “Hallelujah” for many Westerners today,” adding that for many Muslims, the phrase takes on a more everyday quality to celebrate positive events – like the birth of a child or a successful marriage proposal.
The Metropolitan Police are investigating the incident, and Tell MAMA urged her to also contact Transport for London regarding the incident.
The children were described as being white, aged between nine and ten-years-old.
More than one in 10 reports to Tell MAMA in 2017 occurred on transport networks, defined as an incident which occurred on public transport networks, including railways, buses, coaches, trams, and the London Underground.