Three held after attack on Afghan taxi driver

Race Tensions
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The Independent Online

Three men were in police custody last night after being arrested in connection with a racially motivated attack on an Afghan cab driver, which left the 28-year-old man paralysed from the neck down.

In what is feared to be part of a backlash against British Muslims because of the terrorist attacks on America, police are questioning the men about a dispute that erupted between three white passengers and the mini-cab driver. They argued with him about the fare from Acton to Twickenham, west London, and about the events in the US. The attackers shouted racial abuse and hit the man over the head with a bottle. They continued kicking him as he lay on the ground.

Detective Inspector Clarke Jarret said: "The victim is in a stable condition in a high- dependency unit. He is paralysed from the neck down." He added that police had not yet established who said what during the incident, which took place at 3am outside a pub in Twickenham.

In a separate incident, a young Muslim woman was brutally assaulted by two youths on her way home from work. The 19-year-old was wearing a traditional headscarf when she was hit over the head with a metal baseball bat as she walked home from work. Suffering from serious bruising, the woman, from Swindon, Wiltshire, was taken to hospital for treatment on Friday.

Although police claim there was no concrete evidence linking the attack to the events in America, a Muslim leader from the town said that seconds before the assault, a bystander heard one of the youths say: "Here's a Muslim."

Since the atrocities in America, windows have been smashed at a mosque in south Belfast. At another mosque in Southend, Essex, graffiti was daubed on walls and windows were broken. Hoax bomb threats have also been made.

In America, two men were murdered over the weekend in what appeared to be the first revenge killings. Waqar Hassan Choudhry, 40, was shot dead just after 10pm on Saturday in Dallas, Texas. His killers did not attempt to rob the petrol station where he worked, and detectives have told Mr Choudhry's family that they suspect the motive to be revenge.

Three mosques in the Dallas area have been hit by bullets or firebombs since the attacks, and a Sikh man, Balbir Singh Sodhaid, who is said to have resembled Osama bin Laden, was shot in Arizona.

Across Britain, incident rooms are operating in Muslim areas where people can report attacks and learn basic security measures. Mohammed Nassem, the chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque, said: "People are very frightened. While our deepest sympathy is with those in America, it is not right to blame a whole religion for the actions of one man."

Meanwhile, an Afghan asylum-seeker has been assaulted while walking in Dover, Kent. The attack, by an unconfirmed number of people, happened only hours after the terrorist strikes. The man's injuries were said to be serious but not life-threatening.