Muslim woman attacked by stun gun in Tampa

01/05/12 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

Police have been investigating whether a shopper in Tampa hit by a stun gun was the victim of a hate crime. A Muslim woman who does not want to be identified was wearing an Indian-style dress known as a salwar was attacked Sunday at a WalMart on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. We spoke with Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Tampa Chapter of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“She is a 62 year old American Muslim Pakistani woman who was just shopping at WalMart and unfortunately there was another white female. That individual was following her around in the aisles and without any interaction whatsoever just walked up from behind her and tased her and ran off.”

The police have told the newspaper that they know there were maybe two people and they’ve seen some video of this. Is it possible that the victim knows who the attackers are?

“The victim did not know the attackers and did not know their identities so we’re hoping that by getting some publicity on this we can find and apprehend the culprits. It was either and act of reckless, senseless violence or it was a hate crime. Either way we need to apprehend whoever is committing such dangerous acts.”

One reason why it may be a possible hate crime is because the woman was dressed in a garment known as a salwar. Can you tell our listeners what that looks like and what it represents?

“The victim was dressed in typical Pakistani clothing known as a salwar. It’s a very beautiful, traditional dress. It’s well recognized in the Pakistani, Indian backgrounds as a traditional Pakistani dress. So we feel that if it was a hate crime it might have been because the individual was upset seeing somebody expressing their cultural tradition in public.”

Who is it that the police are looking for, what type of suspect?

“A female, white, heavy-set, blonde between the ages of 30 and 49, if it was indeed at hate crime I think it’s a very clear example of Islamophobic and unfortunately sometimes it does upset people to commit these reckless acts of violence. We really need to promote a society where we hate each other because that sometimes leads to violence and that’s really unacceptable and un-American."

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