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Islamophobic crimes have risen by 70% in London in the last year and one group which monitors the crime has said Muslim women seem to be the targets of an increasing number of abusive threats and physical attacks.

Inside Out London has spoken to Muslim women about their experiences of Islamophobia.

Joni Clark, a mother-of-two from east London, said she was abused and attacked on a daily basis because of her traditional Muslim clothing.

A lit cigarette thrown at her Niqab is the latest incident reported to the police by the 22-year old, who converted to Islam.

She said: "I was waiting to cross the road with my son in a pushchair and my six-year-old son by my side and this woman screamed.

"She then said: 'That man running, he lit a cigarette and threw it at you. He tried setting you on fire!' I was shocked."

Concerned about her safety and her sons, Ms Clark decided to move from Penge, south east London, where she had been living for more than four years, for a new start in Whitechapel, east London, an area known for its large Muslim community.

"In Penge, I couldn't walk out of my house without getting some kind of abuse.

"In east London, there are more Muslims and people are used to seeing Muslim women dressed like me.

"People always say Muslims isolate themselves and we don't mix with others but actually it is others who don't want to mix with us."

Hasina Khan, 36, Bristol

Hasina Khan, from Bristol, was spat at during an Islamophobic assault she believes was motivated by conflict in the Middle East.

The 36-year old was heading to work when a man approached her.

"I thought he was going to punch me but he was spitting at me, he did it with such superiority.

"He said something about killing Christians in the Middle East or your people killing Christians in the Middle East. It was so humiliating."

The incident took place in a shopping centre in Bristol but no-one helped and it was only after Ms Khan made a public appeal in the media for help to track down the perpetrator that witnesses came forward.

"It's predominantly women that are getting attacked and the majority of women don't report the incidents," she said.

"They just accept that's the sort of society they are living in at the moment unfortunately."

Meanha Begum, 18, Norwich

Brought up in east London, Meanha Begum thinks she has been a target of abuse because of her Muslim appearance.

Ms Begum has become used to being stared at and insulted because she wears the Niqab, but walking home one evening a woman attacked her.

"She was saying: 'What are you doing here, we don't trust you, you need to get that off your face'.

"She pulled my face veil down and pushed me to the floor. She then turned on my friend and started punching and kicking her."

Ms Begum remembers several people witnessed the incident but, rather than help, some laughed while others turned their backs.

"I felt disappointed and heavy hearted. Just because of the way I dress people don't think that I'm worth rescuing."

Ms Begum reported the incident to police and it was only during the subsequent court case she found out her attacker, who was charged with assault, had been carrying a knife.

"I cannot even to begin to imagine what she would have done if we had not fought back and subdued her.

"To this day, I am stunned by the experience, it has affected my confidence and sense of trust in people."

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-34140219

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