An Oklahoma woman said she was recently assaulted in Dallas because she wore a head scarf identifying her as Muslim.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oklahoma chapter has asked that the Dallas Police Department investigate the incident as a hate crime.
Jenan Ayesh, an Enid resident who works in Oklahoma City, said the violent encounter occurred Dec. 29 when she and her mother were waiting for their ride outside Reunion Tower. Ayesh said a woman began speaking to her mother in a rude manner as they were standing in front of a door that she wanted to use to exit the building.
“She got really agitated with us and told me to go back to my country,” Ayesh said, describing the incident Friday at a news conference held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Oklahoma chapter in Oklahoma City.
“As I was explaining to her that this is my country and I am an American, she told me that if I was American, why do I wear this scarf on my head. I told her because I am an American Muslim.”
Ayesh, 33, said the encounter quickly turned violent after the woman began cursing her and calling her names. She said the woman slapped her several times and when she didn’t respond in kind, the woman hit her over the head so hard that her vision became blurred. Ayesh said the woman also snatched off her head scarf known as a hijab and began pulling her hair.
Ayesh said she went to the hospital for treatment of her injuries and her family filed a report with the Dallas Police Department. Adam Soltani, executive director of CAIR-OK, said Dallas Police have said they are investigating the incident. He said Ayesh has said her attacker appeared to be Hispanic.
“It was very hard for me to experience this. I never thought I would be attacked in this way,” Ayesh said.
The Enid woman said ultimately, she wants to tell her attacker what it means to be Muslim and why she wears her hijab.
Veronica Laizure, CAIR-OK’s civil rights director, called the incident “unthinkable” in 2019.
Laizure said CAIR-OK tracks anti-Muslim bias and the organization noted a 15 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the state. She said Oklahoma came second behind Texas in anti-Muslim bias incidents recorded in the south central region of the U.S.