A White Minnesota woman has been charged with third-degree assault after attacking a Somali woman for speaking Swahili at an Applebee’s restaurant.
Asma Jama, a Muslim immigrant, had been speaking with her family in a booth at the Coon Rapids restaurant on Oct. 30 when she felt something thrown at her face. To her and her family’s horror, it was a glass beer mug that had been chucked at her by 43-year-old Jodie Marie Burchard Risch who was seated eating with her husband a few feet away.
Then Burchard-Risch “smashed” the beer mug across Jama’s face in a “roundhouse punch” right before she ran outside the restaurant. The perpetrator was chased down by a restaurant manager and was later arrested by local police.
Jama, who has sustained severe cuts on her nose, eyebrow and lower lip, says she “feared for her life” and had the right to speak with her relatives in her native tongue.
“I can speak English, but we choose to speak whatever language we want,” she said.
Jama was so traumatized by the experience that she is considering relocating from Minnesota all together.
“I’ve lived in Minnesota for 15 years, never had anyone even look at me weird for not speaking English and wearing a Hijab,” Jama said. “I’ve seen hate crimes on TV, but for it to happen to me — I’m really a different person, I don’t like it.”