King’s Lynn taxi driver’s shock at race hate tirades

editorial image
Have your say

A Lynn taxi driver who was viciously racially abused outside the town’s railway station says he fears his ordeal is evidence of a new trend of discriminatory behaviour.

Tarek Salah-Eldin spoke out this week as an investigation into the incident, part of which he recorded on his mobile phone, continues.

Police say incidents of hate crime in Norfolk have fallen in recent months, following a spike in cases after Britain voted to leave the European Union in June.

But Mr Salah-Eldin, who has lived in the area for more than 40 years, believes the referendum result has encouraged some people to behave in an offensive way. He said: “I blame people like Trump and Farage and the idea of ‘We want our country back’.

“I think that’s caused an awareness among the public and they’re saying ‘Yes, it’s the foreigners, it’s the foreigners.’ It’s started racism really.”

Mr Salah-Eldin, known as Sami, was waiting at one of the station’s taxi ranks when the incident happened on the afternoon of Sunday, September 25.

He said two men got into his car and asked to be taken to an address in South Lynn before the abuse began.

Initially, he believed the men were upset by the fare. However, when he asked why they were using racist terms towards him, one of them replied: “Because you are.”

When Mr Salah-Eldin told him he was going to call the police, the same man told him: “I’ll haunt you.”

He said he had also feared he would be assaulted in the incident, as one of the men had his fist clenched.

He added: “I didn’t know to react. Do I defend myself?”

Mr Salah-Eldin, who has lived in the area for 42 years after coming to Britain from his native Egypt and worked as a taxi driver for 34 years, recorded part of what happened on his mobile phone.

The Lynn News has heard the tape, but the language in it is too obscene to be broadcast.

And he said the incident had made him much more conscious of his position living and working in a foreign country.

He said: “I have never had that before. That was a shock.

“It’s left me very aware, very sensitive. I feel more relaxed when the customers are foreign. From the British side, I feel quite nervous, to be quite honest.

“I know there’s good and bad everywhere. But you get one or two. I’m trying to cement this idea in my head and my heart that they’re not all the same. ”

Although the incident was initially reported to Norfolk Police, the inquiry is now being led by British Transport Police, as it happened on railway station grounds.

Anyone with information is asked to phone 0800 405040 or send a text to 61016.