"this guy has just told us to 'go back' to our own country."
A woman recalled how she and her family were racially abused at Derby’s biggest fireworks event.
Aleesha Khaliq and some of her extended family attended Derbyshire County Cricket Club’s annual fireworks display on November 5, 2021.
The event was sold out, with 14,000 people attending.
She says that the racist abuse began just before the fireworks were about to start at 7 pm.
Ms Khaliq, who works as a journalist and political commentator specialising in anti-racism, said:
“We were trying to get through the crowd a bit to be in a good place to see the fireworks. I was with my sister, brother-in-law and his siblings, and their cousins.
“It all started when the man decided to push the pushchair he was holding into my sister’s legs and a 14-year-old cousin’s legs too.
“I turned around and asked them why they were taking so long to get through the crowd, and my brother-in-law said that this guy has just told us to ‘go back’ to our own country.
“A few bystanders heard it too and threatened to ‘smack him’ if he said it again.
“I was at the front so I didn’t hear it myself, it was my family who heard what he said.
“When I pulled my camera out, he refused to say it again. I told him that I was born here.
“As soon as I turned the video on he tried to hide his face and then tried to smack my phone out of my hand.
“When I told him what my profession was and that I was going to tweet the video, he went red in the face. Where’s the need to be racist? So disgusting.”
The 23-year-old from Derby posted a video of the confronted on Twitter and it received over 3,500 retweets.
Went to watch fireworks with my family today & this guy told us to “go back” to our own country. When we asked what country, he said “your own country”.
When I pulled my camera out, he refused to say it again. Told him that I was born here & he should seethe more. pic.twitter.com/VRinP21hZL
— Aleesha Khaliq (@a_leesha1) November 5, 2021
Many sent messages of support to Ms Khaliq.
However, she revealed that since speaking about the racist abuse, she has been subjected to harassment and racist hate.
Ms Khaliq posted several of the abusive messages she has received, which she says have been “very anxiety-inducing” for her.
She continued: “I’m experienced in dealing with racists.
“I’ve been dealing with online abuse as part of my job for years as my forte is anti-racism.”
“But for it to happen in real life, I felt that adrenaline rush had a lump in my throat and was shaking because I was angry and shocked that it’d had happened.
“We didn’t let it ruin our evening, and people have overwhelmingly been very supportive – but there have been quite a few racist comments in response to my video which have been very anxiety-inducing for me.”
On Friday, my family was racially abused at bonfire night.
Since then, I’ve received relentless racist abuse, harassment & trolling on Twitter from accounts that look like literal extremists.
Here’s a fraction of what I’ve received… all bc I’m Muslim & a British-Asian. pic.twitter.com/gpVm0KQ3Ie
— Aleesha Khaliq (@a_leesha1) November 10, 2021
Following the incident, Ms Khaliq has expressed her gratitude for the support of the Derbyshire police and Derbyshire County Cricket Club.
Ms Khaliq said: “Both parties have been really helpful, the cricket club reached out via Twitter DM straight away after it happened, and the police have been chasing it up over the weekend too.”
A spokesperson for Derbyshire police said:
“We received a report in the early hours of Saturday morning (6 November) about a tweet where a woman reported being racially abused during a fireworks display at Derbyshire County Cricket ground, on the evening of Friday 5 November.
“We have spoken with the victim and an investigation is currently in its early stages.
“Anyone who witnessed the incident, or who has any other information is asked to contact us quoting reference number 66 of 6 November.”
A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Cricket Club said:
“The alleged incident between two visitors to the venue was brought to the Club’s attention via social media after the event.
“Derbyshire County Cricket Club does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and we are liaising with the alleged victim and Derbyshire police.”