Thursday, 14 July 2011

Man Jailed in Scotland for Pulling Off Woman's Burka

Six months for racist attacker who pulled off woman's burka

A man has been jailed for more than six months after he grabbed a Muslim woman's burka and pulled it off.

Duncan Gandy grabbed the woman's burka, which covered her from head to toe, as she walked through the Kingdom Shopping Centre in Glenrothes.

Kircaldy Sheriff Court heard the victim, Sheheen Khan, was left "extremely distressed" by the attack.

Gandy, 31, of Provosts Land, Leslie, Glenrothes, previously admitted assaulting Ms Khan by pulling the burka from her face and head on May 9 this year in a racially aggravated attack. He further admitted breaching bail.

Defence lawyer Robert MacDonald claimed Gandy "bore no ill will towards anybody from any particular religious group or faith". However, he said his client accepted his actions would have been "distressing" to his victim.

Sheriff Grant McCulloch told Gandy that jail was the only possible sentence for an "offensive, frightening and demeaning" attack.

He said: "Suddenly, without warning, you pulled the burka from her face. That was clearly offensive, clearly frightening and clearly demeaning for her.

"There is no mitigation that can be put forward other than the fact you were under the influence of illegal substances. That, in my view, is an aggravation not a mitigation and I take the view that only a custodial sentence is appropriate."

He was jailed for 135 days for the racist attack and 60 days for breaching bail.

Gandy's jail term was welcomed by anti-racism campaigners.

Naeem Khalid, co-ordinator of Fairness, Race Awareness and Equality Fife, said Gandy had attacked a vulnerable woman as well as her faith.

He said: "Everyone's religion should be respected.

"People must have the freedom to practice their religion and the freedom to express that.

"The burka is a principle of her faith and, for me, to remove that is attacking her faith and belief.

"She was a vulnerable female and the attack will have other repercussions as it will affect her confidence to walk in public."
Source: The Herald (14.07.2011) (print edition only - does not appear on their website)

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