Two Saudi women students verbally and racially abused in Norwich for wearing veils

Police are investigating after two Saudi Arabian students were racially and verbally abused in Norwich for covering their faces with a veil. The married women from Bowthorpe, who are learning English at the Flying Classrooms language school in Tombland, said they are now too scared to walk in the city.

The school’s director of studies Roni Snell said she was “appalled” at the incident which happened close to Debenham’s in the city centre last month. She said: “I’m appalled and embarrassed. We have a lot of Saudi people come to study with us. The government funds their study, and a lot of students live with our 250 host families. It’s terrible for a minority of people to abuse these ladies. Norwich’s economy benefits greatly from having these students here and we should treat them as guests.”

One of the women, Ameera Al Busafar, 28, said: “We went together to lunch. There was an old man, just before we got to Debenham’s. He pointed a finger at my face and asked me why I was wearing my veil. He said, ‘You are in England now, take it off’.”

Amal Albuliaihi, 26, who has two children aged four and one, said another woman had also shouted the word “Bomb” at her. She added: “Most people in Norwich are very lovely, but some have a bad idea about us. I’m afraid and scared. I think England is the fairest country, but I cannot feel freedom when you meet people like that.”

Her friend Ameera added: “I would like people to respect me and my religion and culture, because I’m a person and I have rights. We are here to learn and study, and are not here to say bad words or do bad behaviour. Before I came here I thought England was freedom so I was surprised when it happened. I am now scared to walk in the street.”

Norwich Evening Post, 23 March 2012