Nasrin pulled on her long black abaya and pinned her hijab in place. She did it despite knowing that this day, more than ever, her Islamic dress would make her a target.
It was the Tuesday morning after the Sydney siege at the Lindt cafe in Martin Place and Australia had woken to horror headlines of the death of two hostages. While Nasrin grieved for the victims, she also steeled herself for the worst.
As she left her house in the outer Melbourne suburb of Fawkner, she decided that she would remove the password lock from her mobile, to save her a few seconds if she needed to call police.
Sure enough, the mother-of-three would later dial triple zero after a man allegedly began shouting expletives at her as she travelled into the city to work. More than a week later, the police investigation remains ongoing after a 40-year-old Merlynston man was spoken to and released.
Since October, the IT professional says she has been abused three times by strangers who have taken offence to her Islamic dress.
Two of the episodes took place on the Upfield train line during or shortly after the fatal cafe siege. The other was in October, when Nasrin, who wished to use just her first name, said some politicians were advocating banning the burqa in Australia, fuelling anti-Islamic sentiment.
“The government isn’t doing anything to address these issues and I’m an innocent victim of their ignorant bigoted comments by the parliament members,” she said. “We need to hold people accountable from the top.”
There has recently been a surge in reports of violence and harassment against Australian Muslims. In the six days to Tuesday there were 27 reports made to the Islamophobia Register, including at least three in Victoria.
The register’s spokeswoman, Lydia Shelly, suspects there may be many other cases that have gone unreported. She said the majority of public attacks were against women and often in the presence of children.