Page last updated at 19:58 GMT, Monday, 14 December 2009

Man grabbed Muslim woman's veil

Rehana Sidat
Rehana Sidat said she felt frightened

A man who tore a Muslim woman's veil from her face as he passed her in the street has been ordered by a court to pay her £1,000 in compensation.

Stephen Ard, 29, of Gypsy Lane, Leicester, also received a jail term of 16 weeks, suspended for a year, and 150 hours of community service.

Leicester Magistrates' Court heard victim Rehana Sidat felt "invaded and scared to walk down the street alone".

Ard pleaded guilty to religiously aggravated assault.

'Psychological injury'

Ms Sidat, who runs a drop-in centre for people with learning difficulties in Leicester, said: "He pulled my veil off and said 'get that off', he was really quite angry, it was shocking.

"I felt frightened."

She added she has chosen to wear the niqab, which covers most of her face, for the past 15 years.

The court heard Ard was "ashamed and embarrassed" about his actions.

He was drunk at the time of the incident, which happened on Melbourne Road, Highfields, according to defence lawyers.

Magistrates told Ard he had caused significant emotional and psychological injury, and he would have been sent straight to jail if he had not entered an early guilty plea.

After the court case, Ms Sidat said: "I was born in this country, I love this country and I've lived in Leicester most of my life.

"I just want to be treated like everyone else and have the same rights as everyone else.

"We should be able to wear what we want and go about our lives."

Rehana Sidat said she has chosen to wear the niqab for 15 years

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