|Imran Khan shakes hands with Cllr Rodwell|
by New Worker correspondent
ANTI-RACISTS gathered outside Barking Town Hall in east London on Tuesday evening (29th November) in freezing weather to show solidarity with Imran Khan, a local father of five who was sprayed with acid by Islamophobic thugs when trying to deliver a pizza.
Khan, who is still in pain, says the assault on 15th November came after he was intimidated by a gang of teens as he delivered a pizza to Academy Way. “There were a group of 13 or 14 of them, they surrounded me,” he explained.
“They started swearing at me, I didn’t know what to do. They took the food off me and threw it at my face.”
After a passer-by called the police, the gang fled but Imran was forced to return to the road to deliver the order once again from his takeaway business in Porters Avenue, Dagenham.
He then drove to Longbridge Road to pick up his wife Farina Bibi from her sister’s house. Before he could get out of his car he was targeted by two teenage boys, one of whom fired the liquid at his face and ran off.
“My face was burning, I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t open my eyes,” said Imran. He then shouted for help from a neighbouring shopkeeper who poured a big bottle of water on his face at about 6pm.
“I think that’s what saved me, the burns didn’t go too deep,” said Imran, who spent a night in Queen’s Hospital, Romford, following the attack. He has been referred to a scar specialist at Whipps Cross University Hospital.
He added: “It was shocking, I’m still in shock. I’m more angry than anything; they should get punished for what they’ve done. If they did this to me, what could they do to more vulnerable people?”
The campaign group Stand up to Racism organised the vigil at Barking Town Hall and Khan was one of the speakers at the rally.
Leading organiser Miriam Scharf said: “It looks like racism is raising its head again. We want to show that people in Barking and Dagenham are not going to go back to being divided by racism and fear.”
Khan is now back at work but still in pain following the attack. He says the effects are more than just skin deep: “I’ve lost confidence in everything. I’m scared of going out of my house. “By joining the protest I want to show that at least I’m trying to do something.”
Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell (Labour) lent his support and spoke at the vigil.