12 Feb 2017

Woman arrested over racial abuse in Huntly

5:46 pm on 12 February 2017

Police have arrested a woman over an attack in Huntly, Waikato. The woman faces charges of assault, assault with a weapon and offensive language.

A screenshot of the video Mehpara Khan posted to Twitter.

A screenshot of the video Mehpara Khan posted to Twitter. Photo: Screenshot / @Mehparak

It comes after Muslim New Zealander Mehpara Khan posted a video online, which showed a woman yelling expletives and throwing beer cans at her and her friends - who are Muslim and wore hijabs.

The Muslim women then took the matter to the police, who this afternoon said a 27-year-old woman was in custody and would appear in the Hamilton District Court tomorrow.

'This isn't representative of Huntly'

Mehpara Khan said her and four friends were returning to Auckland from a road trip when they stopped in Huntly to use the bathroom and were abused by a woman walking by.

In the minute-long video Mehpara Khan posted on Twitter, an unidentified woman was seen yelling expletives at her and her friends, who are Muslim, and then throwing beer at them.

Ms Khan said when the woman tried to throw punches at them they backed off and started to film.

Mehpara Khan

Mehpara Khan Photo: Supplied / Jessie Casson

"This woman started yelling at us.

"We weren't doing anything, we didn't actually even initially realise she was talking to us," she said.

"Once she threw in the line of Muslim b-words that's when we realised she was yelling at us."

Mehpara Khan said she and her four friends were all wearing hijabs which must have attracted the attention of the woman.

She believed the woman's hateful rants represented a minority of people in New Zealand.

"And that's come across so strongly in all the positive messages we've received on social media.

"This isn't representative of Huntly at all or even of us as New Zealanders.

"There have [been] people that have tried to apologise for this and I don't think anybody needs to apologise for it. The acts of a few are not representative of us as New Zealanders as a whole."

Ms Khan said she had been inundated with texts, phone calls and messages of support online.

"I think as a country we like to think of ourselves as good human beings and her five minutes of hate has led to such a massive outpouring of support.

"It's [posting the video online] been so much more powerful than anything that she's done."

Ms Khan and her friends lodged the complaint at the police station in Manukau when they got back into Auckland.

Islamic Women's Council's spokeswoman Anjum Rahman said she was appalled, but not entirely surprised, by the abuse.

Ms Rahman said a small number of New Zealanders behaved in that way. She would like to meet with the woman filmed swearing and hurling abuse to help change her attitude.

She encouraged all Muslim women to report harassment and abuse.

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