Did you know that freedom of speech in American is only applicable if one is speaking “American?” Me neither.
A Muslim woman in Coon Rapids, Minnesota was dining with her husband at a local Applebee’s when a worker overheard her speaking Swahili and smashed a beer mug across her face.
The managers stepped in when they saw the worker, 43 year old Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch, begin to get upset to try to deescalate the situation but Burchard-Risch refused to leave, continued to yell at the victim, Asma Jana, and threw a drink at her. She then smashed a mug across Jana’s face in a “roundhouse punch” that resulted in a deep cut across her nose, a cut on her right eyebrow, and a large, deep cut on her lower lip. Jana needed 17 stitches for her injuries.
“You’re in America, you have to speak American,” Burchard-Risch yelled at Jana before assaulting her.
Jana responded to the woman by telling her that she is capable of speaking English and that she has no problem with doing so. She asked Burchard-Risch why she was a racist, to which Burchard-Risch replied, “because of people like you.”
Burchard-Risch was arrested by responding police after she fled. She is being charged with third-degree assault.
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for additional hate crime charges because they believe that the crime was catalyzed by the fact that Jana wears the hijab and was targeted for her faith.
As for Jana, she made a statement to the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis that shows the emotional distress a hate crime like this causes on its victims, “I live in America. I can speak English but we prefer to speak our own language if it bothers you I’m sorry — Emotionally, that has destroyed me to be entirely honest.”
On Friday afternoon, a GoFundMe page was set up by a friend for Jana, in an effort to help pay for her medical bills. So far the fund has raised nearly $11,000.