BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Members of Bloomington’s Islamic community say a recent attack on a Muslim woman is a sign they still face prejudice and need to educate others about their religion.
Indiana University students and members of the Muslim community rallied Saturday to spread awareness about the treatment of Muslims and to express support for the 47-year-old woman attacked as she sat at an outdoor cafe table with her 9-year-old daughter.
“When we are faced with intolerance, the best way to fight that is to react with tolerance,” Hemayatullah Shahrani, a member of the Islamic Center of Bloomington told the crowd, The Herald-Times reported (http://bit.ly/1Mk9lOe ). “Not only by talking about it, but how we behave and what kind of example we portray.”
Triceten Bickford, 19, of Fort Wayne has been charged with multiple felony charges, including intimidation, strangulation and battery, in the Oct. 17 attack. A probable cause affidavit indicates Bickford emerged from an alley shouting “white power,” anti-black racial slurs and “kill the police” and then allegedly grabbed the woman by the neck and forced her head forward, restricting her breathing as he tried to remove her hijab, a headscarf worn by Muslim women.
Fariha Hossain, president of the IU Muslim Student Association, said the group believes spreading awareness and working with others to understand what it means to be Muslim is an appropriate response to the attack.
IU anthropology professor Nazif Shahrani said the type of educational reform and changes that need to occur in areas such as school curriculums and government policies will take time and will require the support of the community.
Bickford’s attorney, Katharine Liell, has said he was “highly intoxicated” and did not target the woman because of her religion.
The FBI has opened a hate crime investigation into the incident.
Bickford has been expelled from IU.
Information from: The Herald Times, http://www.heraldtimesonline.com
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