A hijab-clad Muslim woman has been allegedly assaulted in Australia with a beer bottle and her headscarf torn off after her attacker said “merry Christmas” but she replied with “happy holidays”.
The woman was allegedly assaulted after an exchange of words with a man at the Beeliar Village shopping complex, Perth that quickly escalated into a physical fight.
The 33-year-old woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, told an Australian newspaper on Tuesday that she was walking into Coles (supermarket) when a man yelled out “merry Christmas”.
“I turned around and said and ‘happy holidays’ to you,” she said.
“He then yelled, ‘no Merry Christmas’, so I said, ‘ok’, then he called me a ‘(expletive) Muslim’,” she said.
“I asked him what he said and I saw him grab a bottle so I quickly turned away and he threw it at me and it smashed on my shoulder and neck. Imagine if I didn’t turn around, it could have cut my face open,” the woman said.
She said her headscarf came off during the scuffle, which the man dumped near the shopping complex.
Despite the single mother being left shocked and traumatised by the incident that took place on Friday, she decided to follow him as she was calling the police. She said the man then started hurling sticks and rocks at her.
“I was screaming on the phone to triple-zero because I thought this guy could kill me,” she said.
“I was running into oncoming traffic to get away from this guy because he was threatening to punch me in the face. I have been racially abused in the past because of my religion but this is by far worse,” she added.
The woman went back to the shopping centre and waited for the police to arrive. She waited for an hour and rang police again who allegedly told her there was no log of her triple-zero call.
Cockburn Police are investigating the assault and are appealing for anyone with information about the incident to contact Crime Stoppers.
The woman also reported the incident to the Islamophobia Register Australia and the Register’s President, Mariam Veiszadeh, was quoted as saying that it was one of the “worst attacks” she had heard of.
The suspect was described as light skinned, 25-35 years old, 175-180 centimetres tall of slim build. He is believed to have short blonde and was wearing blue shorts and a white top.
The attack comes amid assaults targeting hijab-clad women in different parts of the world from the US to the UK.