Asma Jama is Somali and emigrated to the United States from Kenya in 2000. She was trying to enjoy a nice dinner with her family at an Applebee’s restaurant in Minnesota when things took a turn for the worse. In the middle of a conversation in Swahili, she became the victim of a violent assault.
A woman was offended by hearing a foreign language
A woman named Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch overheard Jama’s family speaking and was angered that the group was speaking a language other than English. She started yelling at the family and threw a drink at Jama. She told Jama to “go home,” and added: “When you’re in America you should speak English.” The assault became increasingly violent and, as the restaurant staff attempted to escort Burchard-Risch out of the building, she roundhouse punched Jama in the face with a beer mug. Jama was taken to a hospital and received 17 stitches for gashes on her nose, eyelid and lip.
The attacker has been charged
Burchard-Risch has been charged with third-degree assault. But some people think this charge is too lenient. Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, believes that: “The current charge is insufficient to communicate the seriousness of and possible bias motive for the alleged attack.” He thinks about what he would have done in the situation.
“Many times I’ve sat in a nail salon slightly annoyed at the nail technicians speaking their native tongue. ‘Were they talking about me?’ I’d think sometimes. Many people actually pose the same question when they go the nail salon. It’s kind of become that thing you ignore. But never had I been so angry as to attack one of them, let alone punch them in the face with a glass,” he said.
People have come out in support
A friend of Jama’s started a fundraiser for her medical bills. It only required $5,000 but raised about $11,000.
“We can’t express how your words and generosity has made a difference in uplifting Asma throughout this ordeal,” the page says. “Each and every word of encouragement has shown her that there are many many good people in this world. We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. Our friend is getting better as we encourage, pray, hope and support her as she goes through this ordeal.”
Jama told her story to local news outlets
“I live in America. I can speak English but we prefer to speak our own language. If it bothers you, I’m sorry,” Jama says.
She also shared that she is thinking about moving out of Minnesota because she is scared for her life and does not feel comfortable anymore.