A 21-year-old Muslim aspiring model and cousin were attacked with acid, unprovoked, while waiting at a traffic stop in East London on the morning of her birthday, June 21.
Resham Khan and 37-year-old Jameel Mukhtar were driving through town when a man approached their car and threw sulfuric acid in from an open window, before running around the vehicle and throwing the substance through the second.
In an attempt to speed away from the assailant who chased them by foot, the injured pair crashed into a fence once the pain became unbearable. The attacker fled the scene.
“We stripped off in the middle of the road, running around screaming and begging for water. We did this for 45 minutes. No ambulance came,” tweeted Khan from the hospital just two days after the attack.
Both suffered severe injuries. Khan endured damage to her left eye and burns across her body – namely arms, legs, face and shoulder.
“I saw my clothes burn away in front of me,” she recalled. “The pain was excruciating.”
Her cousin, induced into coma, suffers from damage in his left eye and obtained first-degree burns across his arms, legs, back, neck, right ear, whole head and side of the face.
“I just have so many questions. Why did the ambulance take too long? Why did he do this? Why haven’t the police took a statement?” Khan continued in the same Twitter conversation, a thread of over 30 tweets explaining the incident after inadequate police action followed.
The family believes the incident is a hate crime.
It has been a week since the attack, but less since Khan has recovered enough vision to take to Twitter. She is still in serious treatment, undergoing treatments up to three times a day.
“HAVE THEY FORGOTTEN ABOUT US?”
The duo was driven to a hospital after “screaming and begging for water” without clothes on in the street for 45 minutes. An ambulance did not arrive.
Police asked some initial questions about the attack, which occurred on Khan’s 21st birthday – June 21 – but no official statement was made until Saturday when the aspiring model took to Twitter.
“I just want this guy caught. I keep asking myself why he hasn’t. Keep wondering why this is taking so long. Have they forgotten about us?” she asked.
Police have since detained John Tomlin, 24, the attacker. The case is now being treated as a hate crime, as the family initially suspected. All such developments come far over a week after the actual attack.
“This attack has caused them both to put their lives on hold,” reads part of a thorough explanation detailing the survivors’ status on a GoFundMe account spearheaded by a close friend for the two victims.
The page has since received over 3,600 shares and has raised nearly 50,000 pounds, surpassing its goal of 30,000. Funds will be focused on recovery and close accommodations near such therapy premises to ensure the safety of Khan and Mukhtar during that process.
The business management student was also preparing to model for Asian bridal, cosmetic and hair industries this summer. After the attack, she now ‘feels as though her identity has been stolen from her.’
Khan, who has just returned from study abroad in Cyprus, was in the midst of celebrating her special day – complete with a spa session and dinner with her mom.
The business management student was also preparing to model for Asian bridal, cosmetic and hair industries this summer. After the attack, she now “feels as though her identity has been stolen from her.”
“Words can’t describe how you have all made me feel during such a low point in my life,” Khan wrote to her supporters. “I want to make sure that this doesn’t get in the way of my life anymore than it has.”
ACID ATTACKS IN LONDON ON THE RISE
According to a report released by the Metropolitan Police Status this spring, acid attacks are on the steep rise in London. Records indicate 174 filed incidents in 2014, 265 in 2015 and 451 in 2016.
It remains easy to purchase acid from local, everyday stores.
A petition on Change.org following the attack now holds over 200,000 signatures, asking Parliament to require a special license before purchasing of acid.
THREE MAJOR ATTACKS ON MUSLIMS IN THREE DAYS
The attack occurred during the final week of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, during which Muslims leaving a mosque in Finsbury Park, London, were attacked by a van just days before.
Within hours of the mosque attack, a 17-year-old girl Nabra Hassanen was kidnapped and beaten to death across the pond in Virginia.
Police did not rule Hassanen’s murder to be a hate crime, but her father remains certain his daughter is gone because of the traditional abaya cloak and headscarf she wore that night.