BROOKLYN HEIGHTS – A 51-year-old Muslim woman dressed in a hijab was attacked by three pre-teen girls at a Panera Bread on Tuesday, December 26, according to police.
The incident occurred at approximately 5:10pm at the Panera Bread located at 345 Adams Street, a police representative says. The group of girls struck Souad Kirama in the back of her head and pushed her, the police say. Kirama refused medical attention and no injuries were reported.
“I was just viciously attacked by a bunch of teenagers at Panera Bread in Brooklyn,” a tearful Kirama said in a video posted to her Facebook page following the incident. “They attacked me. Beat me up. People were just standing in there, watching me being beat up, called a f—ing terrorist. Nobody did nothing. Nobody stood up for me.”
Kirama says in the video that she and a friend were having a cup of coffee and talking when the kids began “terrorizing the second floor” of the Panera Bread location, “cursing, throw[ing] themselves at the door [and] on the floor, swinging the chandelier…they were very intimidating.” She says when she asked them to be quiet, one of the girls spat on her, prompting the rest of the group to attack.
When Kirama’s friend tried to defend her, his cell phone stolen by one of the girls, Kirama says, adding that the girls also tried to grab her handbag and phone as well. “They were all white customers that were sitting there, said nothing, did nothing, saw me being viciously attacked [and] did nothing. They were just having their coffee like nothing is happening,” she said in the video.
Commenters have flooded Kirama’s Facebook page with words of support, however some hateful messages have also been posted, which Kirama responded to in a follow-up post dated December 30th.
No surveillance footage or photos of the suspects have been released yet, according to the police. The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force unit is investigating the incident.
“I made sure I reported it as a hate crime,” Kirama said in the video. “We cannot accept this.”