The Metropolitan Police said two white teenagers launched the unprovoked assault in Chingford as she walked down a popular shopping street.
Witnesses said the attackers attempted to rip the woman’s hijab off, pulling her down to the ground before fleeing the scene at around 8.30pm on Wednesday.
A waiter at a nearby Turkish restaurant said they saw her struggling into a chair outside on their terrace.
“We thought she was a customer so went out to ask what she would like, but she was shaking and crying – she said she was attacked,” he told The Independent.
“They tried to take off her headscarf and she was dragged down and along the floor. We had to help her to walk to get her inside.”
The man, who did not want to be identified, said the victim was distressed as she waited for a response to her 999 call inside the restaurant.
“I’ve never heard of anything like this around here,” he added. “Whoever attacked her might have other connections with other people, we don’t know”.
Paramedics from the London Ambulance Service were called to treat the victim for her injuries and took her to hospital.
Monitors have reported a rise in hate crime allegations across Britain following the EU referendum, against minority groups including Muslims, Jews, and immigrants.
Figures released by the National Police Chief’s Council showed reported incidents soared by 58 per cent in the week following the vote for Brexit and levels have remained high ever since.
Tell Mama, an anti-Islamophobia group, called the latest incident “horrific” and said women were being disproportionately targeted in attacks on Muslims.
“For years data collected by us has shown that visible Muslim women are the ones most targeted for street based anti-Muslim hatred,” a spokesperson said.
“And that most of the perpetrators are male, ahead between 13-35. Anti-Muslim hate at a street level must be seen as male on female abuse.”
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said it was committed to tackling hate crime “in all its forms”, working with Tell Mama as well as the Jewish Community Security Trust (CST) for anti-Semitic incidents.
“The service has long since recognized the impact of hate crime on communities and the hidden nature of this crime, which remains largely under-reported,” he added.
“Positive action is taken to investigate all hate crime allegations, support victims and their families and bring perpetrators to justice.”
Police are appealing for witnesses to the assault in Old Church Road, Chingford, on 14 December. No arrests have been made.
The suspects are described as two white males, aged 17 to 19. They were wearing all black clothing.
Source: The Independent