A Muslim family says that they were attacked and harassed outside of a Bay Ridge TJ Maxx by a Trump-supporting white woman on Saturday, with the woman telling the family to “go back to your country.”
Mido Mourad, a journalist originally from Egypt, says that he and his ex-wife were shopping for winter clothes for their children at the TJ Maxx on 86th St and 5th Ave when the woman allegedly began to curse at them while waiting in line. While leaving, she yelled at them to “go back to your country.” Mourad said that employees and the store’s manager did nothing in response, which led him to call the police.
While waiting, Mourad went outside and began recording video, which he posted on Facebook. The video shows the woman, whom Mourad identifies on Facebook as a Trump supporter, flipping the middle finger at Mourad and attempting to swat his phone out of his hands. She then walks out, tells him to “get out of my face or I’ll f**k you up,” and then says “imma hit him” before walking away.
Mourad said that when the police showed up, they told him the incident was not a hate crime and only wrote a harassment complaint.
“I still cannot believe that TJ Maxx prioritized helping this racist over us,” Mourad said in a statement released by the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) New York chapter. “We hope the NYPD will take this assault seriously and investigate it as a hate crime.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for TJ Maxx said the company will take “any internal actions we deem appropriate” to prevent and deescalate future incidents.
“We are committed to fostering an environment in our stores in which everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and do not condone any disruptive or otherwise aggressive behavior,” the spokesperson said. “We are sorry to learn that this situation occurred between two customers and are looking into this matter further.”
Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus said that she was “stunned and angry” by the incident. “How dare anyone tell a family with children to go back to their country as if they don’t belong here,” she said. State Senator Andrew Gounardes, said the incident was “not who we are and certainly not who we are going to become. Shame on this woman.”
Frontus and Gounardes joined Council Member Justin Brannan and U.S. Representative Max Rose in writing a letter to Mark Molinari, Commanding Officer of the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force, urging the task force to conduct an investigation of the incident.
“Bay Ridge is a diverse community where residents of all different faiths, races, and backgrounds live together peacefully,” the letter read. “When an incident like this goes unpunished, it threatens the very fabric of this community and makes our constituents feel less safe in their own neighborhood.”
A spokesperson for the NYPD told Bklyner that the Hate Crimes Task Force had been “notified” and is “looking into the incident,” but did not respond when asked if that meant it was conducting an investigation.
The incident is the second in a month related to anti-Muslim discrimination. CAIR filed a lawsuit on Wednesday alleging that three Muslim families were turned away by security from an NYC Ferry as a result of Islamophobic discrimination.
This story has been updated to include a letter from Justin Brannan, Max Rose, Andrew Gounardes, and Mathylde Frontus urging the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate the incident.