A WOMAN being spat at and the horrifying sight of a thug kicking out at a baby's pram.
These are just two incidents in a spike of hate crimes reportedly perpetrated against Muslims in Darlington in the wake of November's terror attacks in Paris.
Students have now lobbied Darlington MP Jenny Chapman about the rise in pressures faced by Muslims in the town – particularly women – since extremist gunmen killed 130 people in the French capital.
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Sharifah Rahman, 17, told Ms Chapman that friends and family had suffered increased abuse since the attacks.
Ms Rahman, who studies A-Levels in law, geography and politics at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in the town, said her mother was spat on in Sainsbury's because she was wearing a veil.
The incident in which a baby in her pram was allegedly kicked at in Primark happened before the Paris attacks.
Ms Rahman said neither of the incidents were reported to police because of the shock the victims felt in the immediate aftermath.
She said: "You go into shock and your first thought is not of who you should report it to. It is not a nice feeling."
In December, Scotland Yard reported that hate crimes against Muslims in London had tripled since the Paris attacks.
Events in Darlington seem to indicate a similar trend in the North-East, although none of the region's police forces were able to provide up-to-date figures at the time of publication.
Ms Rahman and her friends Sanjida Basit, and Isha Shakir, said they want to see Darlington to come together as a strong and peaceful community.
She said: "Many of us have lived in Darlington all of our lives, but now it's as though were unsafe in our own home.
"It feels like it is aimed particularly at Muslim women which is more difficult because we won't retaliate, and it happens so quickly leaving you in such shock, that you don’t have time to even think what’s the best thing to do."
Her friend Sanjida said there had been a shift in attitude since recent global events.
She said: “People just feel more intolerant towards you and that there is more of an issue. It’s not an issue for our community because we just want to live peacefully and get on with the people around us like we have for so many years."
Ms Chapman condemned the 'disgraceful' incidents and stressed the importance of reporting hate crime.
She hopes to work with the girls to tackle discrimination.
She said: "This is a tiny minority of people behaving disgracefully and vast majority of residents want to get on with all communities in Darlington and are not prejudiced.
"This terrible behaviour is born out of ignorance and misplaced fear.
“I know this is a priority for the police and I am alarmed and concerned to hear about it. It’s not acceptable and we all need to stand up to this together."