Justice

People Want Answers After This Muslim Woman was Beaten

After an attack in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, in which a man allegedly beat a Muslim woman unconscious—fracturing her face and knocking out several teeth—local citizens are calling for action. 

According to a press release from the Columbus chapter of the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Rahma Warsame, a Somali American, claimed that she was defending another Muslim woman from an unidentified man, who yelled, "you all will be shipped back to Africa" and then attacked her. 

But Columbus police declined to arrest the man after he was briefly interviewed. In a statement on Monday, the department defended the decision by citing "a lack of physical evidence and conflicting stories by all parties at the scene." The two women involved in the incident were taken to local hospitals, and the department is currently investigating the assault.

The last line of the department's statement that has faced particular scrutiny. It read:

"There is no evidence at this time suggesting the incident involved any type of bias which would constitute the incident being investigated as a hate crime."

CAIR legal experts say that there is evidence, pointing to the witness accounts of the suspect shouting racial epithets before reportedly attacking Warsame. And according to Mic, the suspect, "has also reportedly made several racist remarks to neighbors in the past."

The Columbus Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The alleged attack comes just a little over a week since two men were fatally stabbed while defending a Muslim teenagers in Portland, Oregon. In that case, the suspect—identified as 35-year-old white supremacist Jeremy Christian—was arrested and charged with aggravated and attempted murder.

Such incidents represent a disturbing trend. CAIR released a report last month that found a 57 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents, namely harassment, from 2015 to 2016. And that's consistent with findings from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which determined that the number of anti-Muslim hate groups tripled, from 34 to 101, during that same time span.

hate

Mark Potok, an expert in extremism at the SPLC, told ATTN: in an earlier interview that the spike in Muslim-targeted hate is attributable to a confluence of factors. On the one hand, violent extremism has fueled anti-Muslim sentiments, he said. But on the other hand, anti-Muslim rhetoric during Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign emboldened certain groups to openly express their prejudices—and in some cases, act on them.