Pensioner sentenced for abusing woman wearing hijab

An elderly woman has been sentenced after telling a mother wearing a hijab outside a supermarket: "You look like you're about to bomb the place."

Barbara Anne Blauvelt, 77, also told Ritha Ahmed: "Women in Britain don't cover up. You should not cover up. If you're going to live in Britain, you should live by British rules."

Ms Ahmed was with two of her children when she was racially abused by Blauvelt outside Sainsbury's in Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, on January 11.

Police were alerted and Ms Ahmed - who was born and bred in Britain - told officers that Blauvelt had also abused her outside a local doctors' surgery last September.

Blauvelt, of Pinewoods, Bexhill, was convicted at Eastbourne Magistrates' Court of two charges of religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress, Sussex Police said.

She was handed a 12-month conditional discharge, and ordered to pay £620 costs and a £15 victim surcharge on April 21, a police spokesman added.

Following the case, Ms Ahmed said: "I was born and brought up in Bexhill and I have never come across anything like this.

"I felt I needed to take this further to avoid further verbal abuse on women who choose to dress differently, regardless of whether it is a hijab or a habit.

"Everyone should be able to dress as they please and not have to face getting attacked by anyone."

Praising the police, she urged hate-crime victims to come forward to report abuse.

And she added: "I am very proud of being a British citizen as we are a diverse country and, as the saying goes, 'the beauty of the world lies in the diversity of the people'."

Sergeant Peter Allan, of Sussex Police, said: "No-one should be targeted in such a personal and public way because of the way they dress."

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