The woman, who has been relentlessly trolled and accused of “casually walking by” a victim, has said she tried to help the victims.
She contacted Tell MAMA to tell her side of the story.
“I’m shocked and totally dismayed at how a picture of me is being circulated on social media,” she said.
“To those individuals who have interpreted and commented on what my thoughts were in that horrific and distressful moment, I would like to say not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, I’ve also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia.”
The woman said that in that moment she felt sadness, fear and concern. She had talked to other witnesses to try and find out what was happening and to see whether she could be of any help.
— ???? راشد بطي باليوحه (@rashedalyoha) March 22, 2017
She then decided to call her family to let them know she was OK, while she helped another lady find her way to Waterloo station.
Jamie Lorriman, the freelance photographer who took the photo, has come out in defense of her. He told the ABC that she was “distressed and horrified” and he described the scene as a “strange sort of calm atmosphere”.
“No one was sort of screaming or shouting. The people who took on that picture are being rather selective,” he explained.
“In the other picture in the sequence she looks truly distraught — personally I think she looks distressed in both pictures.”
“To assume she was ignoring someone is impossible to know, the look on the woman’s face, she’s horrified, she’s in the middle of a traumatic situation,” he added.
The image began to circulate on social media after Twitter user Texas Lone Star posted the image on Thursday, captioning it: “Muslim woman pays no mind to the terror attack, casually walks by a dying man while checking phone #PrayForLondon #Westminster #BanIslam.”
It quickly went viral, with many slamming the man for his comments.
The majority of people pointed out that the photo lacked any context and that the woman was most likely phoning her family to let them know she was OK.
Another image showing a man walking past a victim using his phone failed to attract similar criticism.
How to help the victims of the Westminster attack…
GoFundMe pages have been set up to support the families of those who lost their lives during the attack.