21 year-old Paul Moore has been convicted of attempted murder and grievous bodily harm with intent and dangerous driving after trying to run over a Muslim women, 47 year-old Zaynab Hussein, and a 12 year-old schoolgirl in Leicester on 20 September of last year, citing his motive as “revenge” for the Isis-claimed Parsons Green attack five days before and the London 7/7 bombings of 2005[1]. Both women were wearing headscarves, and the prosecution explicitly said Moore targeted Ms Hussein “purely because of the colour of her skin and because of her perceived Islamic faith”[2].

Moore reportedly laughed during the attack, striking Ms Hussein twice and leaving her with several life-changing injuries, before targeting the girl, only managing to clip her with the car[3]. Four other people were in the car during the incident and begged Moore to let them out afterwards[4]. After the attacks, Moore said he was “proud of himself”, and was “doing the country a favour”. He reportedly showed no emotion as the verdict was read out[5].

Barre Duale, Ms Hussein’s husband, said after the verdict that Moore had “joined the ranks of terrorists” by attacking the UK’s values. He said, “He was actually attacking Britain, he was attacking a British mother, a British wife, a productive British worker and charity volunteer … He wasn’t attacking terrorists, he was joining their ranks by doing what they do and attacking an innocent woman”[6].

Police recorded the attack as a race and religiously motivated crime, with Detective Chief Inspector Rob Widdowson saying, “These incidents caused understandable concern and anxiety among the local community, particularly as we believe this was an act of hate … The force takes any incident of hate crime incredibly seriously, a significant number of resources were involved in the investigation and subsequent conviction of this individual who does not reflect the people who live in our diverse and cohesive communities in Leicester”[7].

The director of the Islamophobia monitoring group, Tell MAMA, said, “This conviction will help bring closure to a truly shocking act of anti-Muslim violence where a person desired to kill an innocent woman for nothing more than the colour of her skin and religious identity”[8].

The chief executive of Mend (Muslim Engagement and Development), which aims to prevent Islamophobia, said “It is important that something positive comes out of this tragic case. It is high time Islamophobic hate crime is treated with the same degree of seriousness that racism and antisemitism is treated in this country”[9]. He added, “What’s happened to Mrs Hussein is very serious – but it is not an isolated case”[10].

The timing of this conviction and these statements is perhaps particularly significant given recent warnings by counter-terror officials and campaign groups about the increasing threat of far-right terrorism[11] (see http://www.euro-islam.info/2018/03/02/report-warns-war-islam-days-uks-senior-terror-officer-warns-threat-far-right/?utm_content=buffer6f377&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer).

Last month a Britain First supporter was jailed for trying run over the owner of an Indian restaurant after saying he was going to “kill a Muslim”, a Nazi obsessive was imprisoned for threatening to attack mosques with petrol bombs in revenge for the Manchester attack, and a neo-Nazi was convicted of planning to attack a pub’s gay pride event[12].

In Leicestershire itself, figures show that there has been a 45% increase in race and religious hate crime in 2016-2017, in which 1,010 separate incidents occurred, compared with the previous year[13].

Ms Hussein and her husband are reportedly too scared to speak publicly about the incident, and the wider Muslim community in the area are in shock. A community activist in the area, who also asked to remain anonymous for fear of another attack, said, “We are just asking ourselves who is going to be next. We have found out about other parents who have been insulted because they are Muslim. Some of them are scared and afraid to raise their voice – for every woman in this community, we now have the same fear”[14].

Many people on Twitter have also expressed frustration that Moore has not been labelled as a terrorist by the mainstream media[15].

[1] Payne, 2018; Dearden, 2018.

[2] Dearden, 2018.

[3] Payne, 2018; Dearden, 2018.

[4] Dearden, 2018.

[5] Payne, 2018.

[6] Dearden, 2018.

[7] Dearden, 2018.

[8] Dearden, 2018.

[9] Perraudin, 2018.

[10] Casciani, 2018.

[11] Dearden, 2018.

[12] Dearden, 2018.

[13] Perraudin, 2018.

[14] Casciani, 2018.

[15] The New Arab, 2018.

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Casciani, D. (2018) ‘Paul Moore guilty of Leicester hate crime car attack’. [online] 2 March. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43246496?ocid=socialflow_twitter&ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbcnews&ns_source=twitter. [Accessed 6 March 2018].

Dearden, L. (2018) ‘Man tried to kill Muslim woman and 12-year-old girl as ‘revenge’ for terror attacks’. [online] 2 March. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/leicester-muslim-attempted-murder-woman-girl-revenge-uk-terror-attacks-a8236391.html. [Accessed 6 March 2018].

Payne, J. (2018) ‘Driver convicted of ‘revenge’ attacks on Muslims’. [online] 3 March. https://www.pressreader.com/uk/i-newspaper/20180303/281646780640246. [Accessed 6 March 2018].

Perraudin, F. (2018) ‘Man convicted after running over Muslim woman in Leicester’. [online] 2 March. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/02/paul-moore-man-convicted-running-over-muslim-woman-leicester. [Accessed 6 March 2018].

The New Arab. (2018) ‘Muslim woman, schoolgirl attacked in near-fatal ‘revenge’ terror attack’. [online] 2 March. https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/3/2/muslim-woman-schoolgirl-attacked-in-near-fatal-revenge-terror-attack. [Accessed 6 March 2018].