Australia’s highest Muslim council has called on the federal and NSW governments to acknowledge Islamophobia as a "serious danger" after a veiled woman was viciously attacked at a Sydney cafe.
The Australian National Imams Council says it is “appalled” and “deeply concerned” over the attack of a heavily pregnant Lebanese-Australian veiled woman in Sydney’s western suburbs on Thursday.
Police allege that the woman, 31, was sitting with friends at a cafe in Parramatta when she was approached by a 43-year-old male and punched in the head multiple times before he stomped on her.
Other patrons of the cafe came to the woman’s aid and managed to restrain the man before police arrived to arrest him.
The woman, who is 38-weeks pregnant, was treated at the scene before being taken to hospital for observation.
The man was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray.
Police inspector Luke Sywenkyj said the attack appeared to be “completely random and unprovoked,” and that the woman didn’t know her alleged attacker.
The vicious attack was caught on CCTV and has led to commentary within Sydney’s Arab community.
The imams council issued a statement on Friday saying the organisation had reached out to the victim and her family to “offer their support “and that the victim “confirmed the incident was racially and religiously motivated”.
“The incident highlights the prevalence and risks associated with Islamophobia, as confirmed by the Islamophobia report released this week,” the statement said.
“Sadly, women tend to bear the brunt of the attacks by male perpetrators. Much of the verbal and physical abuse occurs in open spaces.“
The council called on the federal and NSW governments to acknowledge that Islamophobia is a “serious danger” and to “act in protecting its citizens”.
The alleged attacker fronted court on Thursday with no legal representation where the magistrate refused to grant him bail.
Earlier this year, the Grand Mufti of Australia and New Zealand Ibrahim Abu Mohamed called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to push for new laws to greater protect Muslims against Islamaphobia following the Christchurch mosque attacks.