Woman who assaulted Muslim passenger on flight to Detroit should be charged with hate crime, group says


A Spirit Airlines passenger is accused of assaulting a Muslim woman on a flight to Detroit. - THE MICHIGAN CHAPTER OF THE COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS
  • The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • A Spirit Airlines passenger is accused of assaulting a Muslim woman on a flight to Detroit.

A Muslim civil rights group is calling on Wayne County prosecutors to file hate-crime charges against a woman who was arrested over the weekend for allegedly assaulting a Black Muslim passenger on a Spirit Airlines flight to Detroit.

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) said the woman hurled anti-Islamic slurs at the passenger, Aicha Toure, who was wearing an Islamic head scarf, on Saturday, the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The woman, who has not been identified, was arrested for assault and disorderly conduct.

CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid is urging prosecutors to charge the woman with ethnic intimidation, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

“Swift arrests along with strong prosecutions must be instituted to deter future acts of anti-Muslim hate crimes,” Walid said in a statement. “It is clear that the actions of the alleged assailant, along with her bigoted statements, indicate that her assault and battery of Ms. Toure was motivated primarily by Ms. Toure’s identity as a visibly Muslim woman.”

The incident occurred after Toure asked the woman to stop harassing and intimidating an older woman who appeared to be of South Asian descent. The woman then punched Toure and called her a “Muslim terrorist” and other insults, according to CAIR-MI.

“The alleged actions of this individual are reprehensible and she clearly targeted religious and racial minorities for her violent words and actions,” CAIR-MI attorney Amy V. Doukoure said. “Michigan’s Ethnic intimidation law was created to protect people like Ms. Toure from being assaulted after being called a Muslim terrorist while traveling on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. It is imperative that Wayne County Prosecutor’s office take this hate crime seriously and ensure that Muslims are safe from hate and violence in all aspects of their life.”

In a separate incident, CAIR-MI is urging state and federal authorities to investigate vandalism at the Grand Blanc Islamic Center, where the sign at the entrance was defaced. The damage was found on Sunday, a day after the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

“We call on local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to rigorously investigate a possible bias motive for this 9/11 anniversary vandalism and to bring hate crime charges if that hate motive is indicated,” Walid said. "It is shameful that a person or persons would vandalize a house of worship on the day on which our nation is reflecting on the national tragedy of our generation and the repercussions that followed."

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