Family and friends of a Muslim woman arrested last November for refusing to leave a local Wal-Mart are working to clear her name, several months after the woman died in her native Egypt. Afaf Saudi, 68, was charged with simple assault, second-degree trespass and resisting an officer. Saudi apparently discovered money missing from her wallet and implied that a Wal-Mart employee had stolen it. Police were called after store managers asked her to leave and she refused. In March, a Guilford District Court judge issued an arrest warrant for Saudi when she failed to appear in court to face misdemeanor charges of simple assault, second-degree trespass and resisting a public officer. At the time, her attorney, Seth Cohen, said Saudi had returned to Egypt and that she didn't plan to return to the United States.
Wajeh Muhammad, her son's close friend and executive member of the board of trustees of the Islamic Center of the Triad in Greensboro, said Saudi returned to Egypt for medical treatment last December and died last March in a Cairo military hospital. A police review absolved officers, but Saudi reportedly suffered bruises to her wrists and arms and hurt her shoulder and ribs in a fall near a police car. "This is the main thing," Muhammad said. "If Mrs. Saudi was alive, that's what she would have wanted - her name to be cleared and the charges to be dropped. That is the way her family felt and the way the Muslim community felt."