By Tony O’Reilly-
The Mayor of Brent, Cllr Orleen Hylton,(faces) is under scrutiny over her silence during the verbal abuse of a Muslim woman wearing a hijab.
Her very silent conduct in the face of an unacceptable Islamophobic offence on a bus has drawn wide criticism on social media, and will be the basis of a wider assessment on what exactly would have been expected of her in her position of authority in the borough.
The incident, witnessed by journalist Shamim Chowdhury on September 5, saw a man hurling derogatory remarks at the Muslim woman, while other passengers, including Mayor Hylton, seemingly looked on without intervention.
The incident on the 260 bus near Harlesden High Street was described by Shamim Chowdhury as deeply disturbing.
She witnessed a Muslim woman, holding her baby, being subjected to verbal abuse by a man wearing a pale blue jacket and a black cap. The man reportedly made offensive comments about the woman’s Muslim faith, even referring to her as a “jihadi,” all while ignoring the presence of her infant.
Shamim Chowdhury, in a display of empathy, offered her support to the victim by providing her contact information as a witness.
In response, the man who had been abusing the Muslim woman issued a chilling warning to Chowdhury, saying, “are you sure about that? I’d be careful if I were you.”
The Mayor’s Silence
What drew widespread attention to this incident was the fact that one of the passengers on the bus, who appeared to witness the abuse, was none other than Brent’s Mayor, Cllr Orleen Hylton. Reports indicate that Mayor Hylton did not intervene during the incident, prompting questions about her role as a public servant and her moral obligation to address such behavior.
Shamim Chowdhury questioned Mayor Hylton’s responsibility and pointed out that it is the duty of a mayor to investigate such matters and respond appropriately.
Chowdhury raised concerns that the mayor’s office issued a statement only after she had emailed them, suggesting that the mayor planned to remain silent had it not been for external pressure.
Critics argue that Mayor Hylton, as a public figure and representative of the community should have taken a stand against the Islamophobic abuse.
Her silence sends a troubling message about the responsibilities of elected officials to combat discrimination and hate crimes.
In her defense, Mayor Hylton claimed that she “felt intimidated” during the incident. However, this explanation has sparked further debate.
Some have expressed sympathy towards the position she found herself, while others have questioned whether feeling intimidated should have prevented her from speaking out against reprehensible conduct.
They argue that public officials should lead by example and prioritize the safety and well-being of their constituents.
The story did its rounds on social media with some locals online news outlets reporting on it too.
Brent-based charity that supports Muslim families and children believe her actions as a public servant should be held to a higher standard, and her failure to report the incident is a breach of her duty.
Brent Muslims, a local community group working to combat Islamophobia and inequality, highlighted the prevalence of hate crimes and institutionalized Islamophobia in the borough.
They argued that incidents like this exacerbate fear among Muslim residents, especially women and children, and called for stronger actions to address discrimination.
Brent Council’s leader, Cllr Muhammed Butt, condemned hate crimes and emphasized the need for an inclusive and accepting community. The council pledged to continue the fight against discrimination and announced plans for Islamophobia Awareness Month to promote unity and tolerance.
This incident serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by marginalized communities and the critical role that leaders must play in creating inclusive and safe environments for all residents.
Ultimately, the public will be looking to Mayor Hylton and Brent Council for a meaningful response that addresses both the incident and the broader issue of Islamophobia in the borough.
Cllr Orleen Hylton, Mayor of Brent, said in a statement to The Eye Of Media.Com: “It is horrifying that a young women, with her child, could be verbally abused just because of her faith in a packed TfL bus in broad daylight.
“I didn’t witness the full situation unfold although I did hear raised voices when I was sat at the front of the bus. It was at the stop before mine, as I was preparing to get off, that I moved to the exit doors.
“As a single female travelling alone, I know the victim must have felt very intimidated – as I did too.
“I do sincerely hope that the victim is ok and that the Police and TfL are investigating thoroughly so he can be brought to justice.”
Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of the Council, said: “There is absolutely no place for hate crime anywhere in the UK, but especially in one of most diverse boroughs in the country.
“We would like to thank the individual who has highlighted this terrible case of Islamophobia in our borough. We have been in touch with the Police and TfL and trust that a thorough investigation will take place.
“Islamophobia is a blight on our communities, it is a vile and unacceptable form of discrimination that has no place in our borough we will continue the fight to make sure that Brent is an inclusive and accepting place for people of all faiths and backgrounds.
“We will continue our work to raise awareness of Islamophobia in all its forms.
“This November, for the second year running, we will be hosting and supporting a range of events to mark Islamophobia Awareness Month to show that we are all united and that any form of discrimination will not be tolerated in our community.”