When a woman criticized Islam, a man became irate and eventually slapped the insulting woman. However, the woman is now facing charges for “racial abuse.”
While Umar Abdullah Hamid, 28, and his wife were sitting in their car, they were taken aback when a stranger confronted them out of nowhere. Jade Cooper-Thwaite walked up to Hamid and immediately began berating his wife, ultimately criticizing the fact that a white woman would choose to wear a hijab.
Hamid’s wife exited the vehicle and pursued Cooper-Thwaite, prompting her husband to follow suit. Incensed by the woman’s insults, Hamid engaged Cooper-Thwaite in a heated argument in front of a store in the town of Haslingden in Lancashire, England. That’s when things turned violent.
According to CCTV footage, Hamid was seen slapping Cooper-Thwaite after she attempted to pull off the license plate from his vehicle. He also claims that she spat at him and his wife before he assaulted her and kicked her purse, Lancashire Telegraph reports.
Hamid was later arrested and charged with assault for slapping Cooper-Thwaite during the dispute. However, prosecutor Parveen Akhtar warns that Cooper-Thwaite is likely to be arrested and charged with assault and “racially abusing” Hamid’s wife, who is a white Muslim woman.
“It is accepted he had been an innocent bystander,” said Miss Akhtar. “His wife is a Caucasian and it seems the aggrieved has made comments about her wearing a head scarf. Miss Cooper-Thwaite may end up becoming a defendant because the police say they are going to speak to her.”
Hamid avoided an assault charge by pleading guilty to using threatening behavior. He was fined $148 and is ordered to pay $105 in court fees as well as $40 in victim fees. The court reportedly showed leniency toward Hamid, arguing that there was sufficient provocation for his behavior.
Duncan Nightingale defended his client, arguing that Hamid had little choice but to get physical with Cooper-Thwaite. He also suggested that criticism of Islam amounts to racial abuse, even if the victim is of the same race as the suspect.
“Miss Cooper-Thwaite is not known to the defendant and his wife and they had simply stopped to go to the shop for some throat lozenges,” said Mr Nightingale. “The aggrieved approached the driver’s side of their car and began a tirade of racist abuse towards his wife who is a white woman who has adopted the Muslim faith. My client got involved by pulling them apart and he accepts he kicked her handbag away.”
Nightingale alleged that Hamid only hit Cooper-Thwaite because she spat on him, which is considered to be assault in some cases. He added that Hamid deeply regrets his reaction to the woman even though she hurled insults at his wife.
“He and his wife then got in their car. Miss Cooper-Thwaite tried to pull the rear number plate off their vehicle and he got out again and he accepts he slapped her with an open palm after she spat at him,” he said.
Nightingale pointed once again to the fact that his client was provoked by Cooper-Thwaite in order to defend his violent reaction. However, he admitted that physical assault probably wasn’t the necessary response to spitting and verbal insults.
“I would ask you to accept there was an awful lot of provocation,” said Mr Nightingale. “These two people were simply minding their own business until Miss Cooper-Thwaite decided to drag them into the situation.”
Cooper-Thwaite is being interviewed by the police in an effort to determine whether she will be charged. In the least, she would be charged for spitting at the couple or even attempting to make off with their license plate. At most, she could face prison time for racial abuse, as has been the result in previous cases in the UK.
While many agree that Cooper-Thwaite was out of line in her treatment of Hamid and his wife, who were simply minding their own business, others see the danger in making criticism of religion and its tenets a potential crime.