RIYADH: A US court has charged a homeless woman with hate crimes after she attacked a Saudi exchange student, ripped the woman’s hijab off, attempted to strangle the student and then stripped naked before wiping her own body with it.
Now the victim – who has not been named – says she is too afraid to continue wearing her hijab in the US.
Jasmine Renee Campbell, 23, is accused of causing the victim irrevocable psychological damage to the student in Portland, Oregon.
According to court documents, the incident occurred at a downtown Portland MAX train station on Nov. 12, 2019, at about 7:20 p.m.
Campbell is accused of forcefully removing the 24-year-old Saudi student’s hijab and attempting to choke her with it.
It is claimed Campbell then removed her clothes except for a jacket, rubbed the victim’s hijab on parts of her naked body, until bystanders called the police to the scene.
She also faces two counts of second-degree bias crime, one count of attempted strangulation, one count of harassment, and one count of third-degree criminal mischief. The case is being investigated by the Portland Police Bureau.
According to the report, the victim told police she no longer felt safe wearing a hijab in public and had to rely on alternative methods to keep herself covered.
Campbell told police she was “fighting and playing around,” that she “wanted to be a stripper,” and she wanted to “show the victim that she did not have to be a Muslim.”
The report further reveals that on Dec. 13, 2019, the Portland Police Bureau located and arrested Campbell for an unrelated crime.
She was scheduled to appear in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Jan. 3, 2020, but failed to appear. A warrant for Campbell’s arrest remains active.
In an article posted on Jan. 3, Campbell told Local news outlet, FOX 12 Oregon, she was not trying to hurt anyone. According to her, she was drunk and also suffered from mental health issues.
Campbell said she missed the court hearing because of treatment she received for her illness.
According to court records Campbell said she did not know the victim.
The issue of the hijab is one of the most discussed among Arab women living in the US.
Some women openly wear hijab, some resort to different types of hats and some Arab women avoid wearing one altogether.
Noor Ali, who studied in the US for six years, says she wears her hijab in Arab countries, but takes it off when she goes to America.
“I am a proud hijabi, and I love my hijab, but I used to live in Arizona, and it just was not safe to wear a hijab there,” she told Arab News.
She feels guilty over the admission but maintains that it was only due to safety reasons.
And Kholood Alayman, a student in Texas, said she lived in a more “intolerant” state, which caused her to worry over her hijab almost daily. But nonetheless, she continues to wear it.
But she said she had been lucky, so far: “Every time I hear about a Muslim woman harassed, abused, or worse for her hijab, all I can think of is ‘that could have been me’,” she said.