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Florida Muslim woman assaulted in Mall

Florida Muslim woman assaulted in Mall

The Florida office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-FL) today called on law enforcement authorities to investigate an assault on a Muslim woman at a shopping mall in that state as a hate crime.

The victim, the owner of a jewelry kiosk at Westshore Mall in Tampa who wears an Islamic head scarf, says she was verbally and physically assaulted on Tuesday by three people who told her to “get out of (America)” and said her religion is “hateful and violent.” The assailants allegedly blamed the woman for the recent Madrid train bombings.

During the assault, one of the attackers allegedly grabbed the victim’s throat and attempted to remove her head scarf. The perpetrators fled when the victim ran to find mall security officers. Police are currently investigating the incident as a case of simple battery.

“The facts of this case mandate that law enforcement authorities treat it as a hate crime and amend the possible charges accordingly,” said CAIR-FL Communications Director Ahmed Bedier. “We must send an unambiguous message that anti-Muslim attacks will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” said CAIR-FL Executive Director Altaf Ali.

Since the 9/11 terror attacks, Florida Muslims have witnessed an alarming rise in bias-related incidents. In 2001, a Tallahassee man drove his truck into a local mosque. In 2002, a Pinellas county man was arrested for plotting to attack some 50 Islamic institutions in Florida.

According to CAIR’s national office, the Florida assault is part of a recent rise in anti-Muslim incidents. Today in Texas, CAIR’s San Antonio office is holding a news conference to express community concerns about arson attacks on three local Muslim businesses. Last month, vandals wrote “sand n**gers” and “America rocks b*tch” on the interior walls of the Islamic Center of the South Plains in Lubbock, Texas.

A CAIR “Muslim Community Safety Kit” booklet, designed to help local Islamic leaders protect institutions and individuals, may be obtained by e-mailing or calling 202-488-8787.

CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 26 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.


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