A Hate Crime attack victim today told of her terror as thugs targeted her car with her baby son in the back.
Mum-of-one, Samina Ansari, spoke out ahead of Glasgow's Hate Crime Awareness Week and urged other victims and witnesses "Don't stay silent - report incidents".
Samina is Chief Executive of Amina, The Muslim Women's Resource Centre, based on Glasgow's Southside. The centre is also a Third Party Reporting Centre for Hate Crime - but as well as helping victims, Samina also has personal experience of the devastation it can cause.
Shortly after the terror attack at Glasgow Airport, she was sitting in her car at the head of a queue at traffic lights in Darnley with her baby son in the back and her husband in the passenger seat, when two men launched an attack on the vehicle.
One man began lashing the bonnet of the car with a metal dog lead and urging his dog to attack while swearing and shouting racist abuse at the family. Another man had joined in and was also trying to smash a car window with a stone; Samina had quickly locked the doors on spotting them acting disorderly on the road seconds earlier.
The traumatised family managed to drive round the man standing in front of their vehicle and phone the police, but the aftermath of the Hate Crime left Samina terrified to leave the house, walk to the park with her baby son or even go out shopping.
She said: "It was quite horrific. I was on maternity leave from my job when it happened. I was a new mum and it was supposed to be one of the happiest times of my life but it was a horrendous time. I was so scared and didn't want to leave the house and I kept thinking, what if those people live around here and are going to come and find me. Also I wondered how would I explain to my wee boy that he could possibly be attacked because of the colour of his skin or his religion. I think I'm a pretty resilient person, but it really affected me, and robbed me of my confidence."
The culprits were prosecuted but it took Samina many months before she began to get over what had happened.
A Hate Crime is any crime motivated by prejudice or hate against a person because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity.
Glasgow has a network of more than 60 Third Party Reporting Centres including housing associations, Victim Support, Glasgow Disability Alliance and Glasgow Asylum and Refugee Service. These are safe places where staff have been trained by Police Scotland to provide help and support to victims.
Glasgow City Council condemns all forms of Hate Crime and has a team of staff ambassadors raising awareness of the issue and fostering support for the campaign to tackle it - which is co-ordinated by Community Safety Glasgow.
This year the city's awareness raising campaign will run from October 14th to 21st. It will be supported by radio adverts and advertising on the Glasgow Subway urging victims and witnesses to report Hate Crimes. A huge banner will also be erected on the railings of St Patrick's Primary School in Perth Street which should be visible to thousands of motorists commuting into the city every day on the M8.
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, urged city residents to help put an end to Hate Crime.
She said: "We all have a responsibility to stand up against Hate Crime and support the victims. By its very nature, Hate Crime is designed to intimidate victims and instill fear. It can be very difficult for people to come forward. That's why it is extremely important that we create an atmosphere where victims feel able to report incidents.
"I represented a family who were subject to appalling racial abuse by a neighbour day-in-day out. Their young daughter was verbally abused as she walked to school and it caused her serious mental health problems. She was scared to leave her house.
"They finally felt able to report it, and, working with the police, we were able to get the neighbour moved on.
"No one should have to put up with that kind of abuse. Don't stay silent about Hate Crime. Report it!"
Find out more about Hate Crime and what is being done to tackle it at www.hatecrimescotland.org