Date: Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 11:55 AM
Subject: [bangla-vision] Muslim Woman Attacked in Columbus, Ohio
Updated: Tuesday, December 21, 2010 03:44 PM
The Columbus Dispatch
The FBI has opened a preliminary investigation into an alleged hate crime after a Muslim woman said she was harassed and pepper-sprayed outside a West Side mosque yesterday.
The 20-year-old Grove City woman, who has lived in central Ohio for more than 10 years, met with FBI officials in Columbus this morning. This afternoon she appeared at a news conference at the Columbus chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Bethel Road.
Saida J. Said, a Somali native who dresses in traditional Muslim garb, said she was stopped in her car at an intersection on Sullivant Avenue about 1:30 p.m. yesterday when she noticed a white man watching her. The man followed her to a bank, then into the parking lot outside the Abubakar Siddique Islamic Center on Sullivant Avenue.
After she parked, the man stopped his white SUV behind her. He got out and pepper-sprayed Said through her car window and yelled racial slurs and profanities, she said.
The man then drove off.
The incident was caught on the mosque's surveillance camera. Columbus police are still investigating.
Published: December 21, 2010
Updated: December 21, 2010 - 10:24 PM
The FBI has opened a preliminary civil rights investigation in the case of a 20-year-old woman who says she was the victim of a hate crime. It all stems from an alleged incident that happened on the city's west side and was caught on camera.
The woman, who did not want to give her identity to NBC4, said the incident has left her terrified. "I was attacked by a man I didn't know and he just wanted to hurt me," she said.
The alleged incident took place behind the Abubakar Siddique Islamic Center on Sullivant Avenue. Surveillance video shows the woman, who is a Somali immigrant, driving into the parking lot and parking her car. Then a second SUV drives up and parks directly behind her. Video shows a man getting out of the second SUV and walking up to the woman's car. That's where this story takes a violent turn.
"He threatened me," she said. "He said he will kill me and he said 'All you Muslims, go back to wherever you're from. Don't think you can rule this country. You can't.' He said, 'This is my country.'"
She said the man then sprayed her in the face with pepper spray. "At first, I was like blinded through everything. I couldn't see," she said.
After being fought off by the woman, the attacker fled the scene. Video shows the woman holding her eyes. She said she noticed the man following her and thought she'd be safe outside a place of worship.
Those with the Islamic center say this is not the first act of hate they've experienced since the mosque was opened in 2004, which is why a video camera was watching.
"The reason we have surveillance cameras in the past couple years, the same incident has taken place, not a similar incident, where you basically have people attacking the mosque, breaking glass outside the mosque, writing 'kill all Arabs' across the mosque," said Romin Iqbal with the Columbus Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Tuesday afternoon, CAIR called on the FBI to investigate. The FBI said they have spoken with the victim.
"This young lady was attacked because she was bearing an Islamic dress and she identified herself as a Muslim," said Iqbal.
While the burn from the pepper spray has worn off, the sting from the reality of what the woman says happened to her lingers on.
"I can never forget about this man. Right now, while I'm standing in front of you, I still visualize him. I feel like he is still in this room and I'm afraid, like he's just going to come at me," she said.
FBI spokesman Mike Brooks says results of their investigation will be turned over to the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
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