Cellphone Footage Captures Alleged Assault of Chicago Muslim Women - NBC Chicago

Cellphone Footage Captures Alleged Assault of Chicago Muslim Women

Chicago Islamic relations group says police should investigate as hate crime



    Muslim Women Harrassed in Rogers Park

    Two Muslim-American women say they were physically and verbally assaulted on a Rogers Park sidewalk early Thursday morning by a woman hurling anti-Islamic insults. And they charge Chicago Police are not taking the incident seriously, NBC 5's Phil Rogers reports. (Published Friday, Aug. 12, 2016)

    Two Muslim-American women who reported being physically assaulted and harassed on a Chicago neighborhood sidewalk Thursday, blame the political climate created by Donald Trump for the attack.

    Suzanne Damra says the woman followed her and her mother as they walked to their car just after daybreak Thursday, in the 1600 block of West Howard St. in Rogers Park, spitting at them and hurling anti-Islamic insults. The two women were wearing a hijab, the traditional Muslim head covering.

    Cellphone video captured by one of the victims from inside the car shows the alleged assailant trying to open the car's doors.  The woman can be heard saying “You're ISIS [EXPLETIVE]. You're ISIS [EXPLETIVE].”

    The woman then appears to try to break the car's side view mirror. Damra said it was at least the fifth time she and her mother had been accosted by the woman.

    Her mother, meanwhile, can be heard in the video blaming the woman's bigotry on the Republican presidential candidate, who has called for a ban on Muslims seeking to immigrate to the United States.

    "That's what you get from Donald Trump!" she screams as the suspect walks away. "Encouraging crazy people."

    In an interview with NBC5, Damra’s mother Siham Zahdam said she believes Trump’s rhetoric had emboldened people with anti-Islamic sentiments.

    “People copy what he is saying,” she said. “And they think he is going to make the white people more powerful.”

    Damra tells NBC5 that she was more upset by the lack of empthay of two bystanders, who she said witnessed the incident and did not intervene, then the attack itself.

    “There were two very young men, I don’t think they were more than 21 or 22,” she said. “They were laughing, they high-fived her, and said, 'yeah, they are ISIS.'”

    Chicago Police said they are investigating the incident as a simple assault. But Chicago’s Council on American-Islamic Relations called for both state and federal authorities to make a more aggressive inquiry.

    “It’s very clearly a hate crime,” said CAIR spokesman Hoda Katebi. “To file this as a simple assault is not at all close to what it actually is.”

    A Chicago Police spokesman acknowledged that police know who the alleged assailant is, but said investigators are waiting for the two women to swear out a formal complaint.

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