Attacked For Speaking Foreign Language: Minneapolis Woman Asma Jama Beaten Up For Speaking Swahili In Public

In a shocking incident of hate crime, a woman who was speaking her native language, Swahili, at a Minneapolis restaurant was beaten up by another woman. According to ABC News, the victim, identified as Asma Jama, was dining with her family and chatting with them in Swahili at an Applebee’s restaurant located in Coon Rapids when a woman seated nearby attacked her using a beer mug. The incident reportedly happened on October 31, but is only now being widely reported.

The attacker was later identified as 43-year-old Jodie Marie Bruchard-Risch. Jodie used her beer mug to strike Asma across her face in a roundhouse blow, reports CBS News. The blow left Asma with deep cuts to her nose, right eyelid, and lower lip. Asma was quickly taken to a hospital where she received 17 stitches. Law enforcement has in the meantime managed to arrest Bruchard-Risch, and she has been charged with third-degree assault.

Speaking to reporters, Asma Jama revealed that she was at the restaurant with her cousins and four children having dinner when Bruchard-Risch walked up to her and confronted her for not speaking in English. She demanded Asma to speak in English. In response, Asma replied to her.

“I live in America. I can speak English but we prefer to speak our own language if it bothers you I’m sorry.”

However, the violent woman was in no mood to listen and responded by shouting and yelling at her. Hearing the commotion, the managers and other patrons at the restaurant tried to intervene, but a violent Bruchard-Risch refused to leave. She continued to yell at Asma and threw her drink at her and then used the beer mug to hit Asma on the face and fled the place.

[Image Via Anoka County Sheriff’s Office]
Asma Jama has been living in the United States since 2000 and came to Minnesota from Kenya. An ethnic Somali, she says she never imagined she would be attacked in the United States for speaking her native language.

“Somebody hit me because I was speaking a different language. I couldn’t believe after all these years somebody hit me because I’m different.”

Since Asma Jama is a Muslim, the Minnesota Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) has come in her support and has called for hate charges to be filed against Bruchard-Risc, who remains in police custody. According to Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR-MN, the latest attack on Asma Jama is one amongst many bias-motivated incidents across the United States reported in the recent past. He also added that the current charges against Bruchard-Risch are insufficient.

“The current charge is insufficient to communicate the seriousness of and possible bias motive for the alleged attack,” he said.

Meanwhile, Paul Young, an officer from the Anoka County Attorney’s Office, told reporters that additional charges could be filed against Bruchard-Risch. Investigators are awaiting medical reports of Asma Jama before they press further charges, he revealed.

Reports also add that Bruchard-Risch will appear in court to face charges on December 7. At this moment, it is unclear if she has an attorney.

Meanwhile, Jama is still traumatized at the incident and is now afraid to leave her home alone. The traumatized woman has asked her cousin to accompany her on Thursday when she will visit a hospital to have the stitches on her lower lip removed. In fact, Asma Jama is already contemplating moving out of Minnesota to what she thinks would be a safer location.

“I’m actually thinking about moving out of Minnesota. I’m scared for my life. I don’t feel comfortable here anymore.”

[Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Getty Images]

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