An Iraqi American woman loading groceries into a car was attacked earlier this month by a man who ripped off her hijab and cursed at her, according to Long Beach police officials. It happened around 4:30pm July 2 in a parking lot near the Trader Joe’s in the 4000 block of Atlantic Boulevard.
The man forcibly pulled and twisted the hijab as he attempted to remove it, which choked the victim and caused scratches and abrasions to her neck, according to a police statement.
“We believe it’s a hate crime because he referred to the hijab by name and cursed at her while taking it from her,” said Commander Don Wood. The victim, who is 32 years old, has asked to remain anonymous, he said.
The woman fled violence in Iraq eight years ago, according to Salam Al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles.
“It’s a sad irony that she is met with violence here because she had decided to wear the hijab to maintain her identity,” Al-Maryati said.
Violent attacks are rare, he said. “But the problem of hate speech and harassment is an unfortunate common occurrence. We see it on our Facebooks, we see it on the news.”
“Every time there is a Middle East crisis, we are worried about backlash,” he added.
Police released a composite sketch and the following description of the suspect:
- White male in his 30's
- Approximately 5’8” to 5’9” tall
- Thin build
- Short brown hair and brown eyes
- A trimmed brown mustache and beard
- White buttoned-up shirt, black pants, possibly black shoes
Commander Wood told KPCC the last report of a hate crime against a Muslim person in Long Beach took place in 2006.