“This man verbalised his hatred of Muslims prior to hitting me. He decided that he was going to take it in his power to act upon his hatred and he neither knows me, nor my religion.”
An innocent and heavily pregnant woman wearing a hijab was punched 14 times in a café on November 20th in Parramatta near Sydney, New South Wales in Australia.
Horrifying security camera footage shows the 31-year-old victim, who was 38 weeks pregnant, eating with her two friends before a man leaned over at her table, lunged towards her, and repeatedly punched the victim in the head. He then kicked her body and stomped on her head while she lay on the ground. Other customers nearby and her friends attempted to stop the attack and restrained the attacker before the police arrived.
A statement from the victim has been issued via Facebook:
This man verbalised his hatred of Muslims prior to hitting me. He decided that he was going to take it in his power to act upon his hatred and he neither knows me, nor my religion. I do not want this attack to happen to anyone ever again. I want to see a world where people defend one another against cowardly acts like this and band together to protect the victims. We cannot allow behaviour like this to become the norm and sit silent. I thank the people who stepped in that night in my defence…The overwhelming support I have received is a reflection that this was a story that many can relate to.’’
Stipe Lozina, 43, allegedly screamed “Muslims raped my mum”, before the attack. He has been charged with affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Magistrate Tim Keady told Lozina in court: “After making a comment about Muslims, you approached her and punched her to the head 14 times. For bail purposes I will treat that as a very strong case against you”. The attacker Lozina was known to the police and has an ‘extensive criminal record.’ Lozina has been refused bail and is due to return to court on December 5th.
A new report by Charles Sturt University entitled ‘Islamophobia in Australia’ was published a day after the attack. Out of 113 female Muslim victims who reported being physically intimidated or harassed, 96 per cent were wearing a headscarf. The report states that attacks in Australia have become increasingly more public and intense.
Additionally, there has been a 30 per cent increase in harassment where there are security guards or surveillance. The report found that Islamophobia in Australia is “a continuous phenomenon.” And in 50 per cent of cases, onlookers do not intervene.
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) stated Lozina was heard “yelling anti-Islamic hate speech on the sufferer and her associates”. The AFIC president Rateb Jneid stated: “This was clearly a racist and Islamophobic assault and we count on it to be handled as such”.
Sydney police have not yet classified the frenzied and unprovoked attack as a hate crime. But for Muslim women to recover from the long-term impacts of these violent attacks, it needs to be rightfully recognised as an Islamophobic one. The punishment needs to be severe enough to deter others from committing the same acts of violence.