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Woman describes being racially abused as she marked Eid on Hampstead Heath - socially distanced from friends and family

PUBLISHED: 19:23 26 May 2020 | UPDATED: 19:48 26 May 2020

Hamda Issa-Salwe, 26, was walking past Highgate No.1 Pond when she says she was called a

Hamda Issa-Salwe, 26, was walking past Highgate No.1 Pond when she says she was called a "gorilla". Picture: Hamda Issa-Salwe

Hamda Issa-Salwe

A Kentish Town woman says she feels “violated” after she was racially abused by a group of young men as she walked through Hampstead Heath on Sunday evening to celebrate Eid.

Hamda Issa-Salwe says she was walking past Highgate No. 1 Pond just before 9pm on May 24 when a group of four youths hurled insults at her such as “fat gorilla” and “black gorilla” after she refused to respond to their cat calls.

The 26-year-old said the incident ruined her “special day”, which would normally be spent celebrating the end of Ramadan surrounded by family and friends. Instead she decided to go for a stroll by herself due to lockdown restrictions.

Hamda, who works in music merchandise, said: “I was celebrating Eid and it was supposed to be the end of a beautiful day.

“I just wanted to see the sun set after making such an effort to make that day so beautiful.

“I was separated from my parents, whereas usually at this time of year I’d be surrounded by my family, cousins and uncles.

“I wanted to go the Heath, have a beautiful scenery and have a special moment to myself.

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“I’ve been going to the Heath since I was a baby and this park has always been part of my life.

“I go here all the time and nothing like this has ever happened to me in my life before, so I was like ‘how dare they ruin this for me?’”

Hamda, a former Parliament Hill School student, said after she ignored the leering of the group and one of them calling over “yo babe”, she was called “fat” and “ugly”.

Feeling “shaken” and “close to tears” but wanting to “stand her ground”, she exchanged insults with the group who she says scarpered when she started to record the incident.

Despite “tens” of people watching on and it being “incredibly busy”, Hamda said a member of the public only intervened to tell her to stop, not the alleged aggressors.

Two women walked her home after the police were called.

Hamda said the incident felt “like a violation”, adding: “I just want them to know what they did isn’t funny, it’s not cool and that it’s disgusting.”

Police confirmed they are investigating the incident and that no arrests have been made.


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