Head Scarf Yank Earns Woman Hate Crime Charges

Amal Abusumayah says her hijab was yanked by a woman who made derogatory comment about Islam

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    FALLS CHURCH, VA - NOVEMBER 09: The Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center is shown November 9, 2009 in Falls Church, Virginia.

    A southwest suburban woman has been charged with a hate crime for an alleged attack on a Muslim woman at a grocery earlier this month.

    Amal Abusumayah said she was paying for groceries at a Jewel store in Tinley Park on Nov. 7 when she felt a sharp tug on her headscarf. When she looked at who had pulled her hijab, she saw a woman who moments before had made a derogatory comment about Islam.

    On Wednesday, Tinley Park police announced that Valerie Kenney, 54, has been charged with a hate crime, a felony that carries a possible sentence of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

    "I was shaken up," Abusumayah told the SouthtownStar about the Nov. 7 assault. "This is my dignity and this is my religion."

    Ahmed Rehab of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said his organization has reached out to the FBI to pursue federal charges.

    The scarf incident was the first of two apparent race-related attacks in Tinley Park in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings, Police Chief Michael O'Connell told the Chicago Tribune.  He said a Muslim family on Nov. 8 found racist graffiti on the front of their home. The  person rang the family's doorbell but ran off,  O'Connell said.

    He said hate crimes such as the one Kenney is charged with "attack the dignity of people because of their religious beliefs, race or sexual orientation, and we don't tolerate that here."

    The charges come a day after BusinessWeek magazine named Tinley Park the best place in the coutry to raise children.