Sunday, October 17News That Matters

A woman was told to put on a mask inside a Florida Walgreens. Instead she went on a racist and Islamophobic rant against other customers.

counter-protest muslims islamophobia

Counter-protesters hold a signs across the street from an anti-Islamic law rally Saturday, June 10, 2017, in Seattle. Associated Press/Ted S. Warren

  • A woman unleashed an Islamophobic and racist rant on a family shopping at a Florida Walgreens.

  • The incident which went viral started after employees told the woman to wear a mask.

  • Instead, she turned her attention to a couple and their friend.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A New York couple stopped by a Walgreens while on vacation in Fort Lauderdale and were met with an Islamaphobic and racist rant by a woman who refused an employee’s request to wear a mask.

Video of the incident uploaded to Facebook by Nahla Ebaid, an Egyptian-American, went viral. Ebaid told Insider that she and her husband and their friend Angie Elyamani were shopping in the store when the woman walked in maskless.

An employee asked the woman to put on a mask, and instead, she turns and focuses her attention on the group.

“She rolls her eyes and looked at me and said: ‘you know, I wish I was from your country, so I don’t have to wear the mask,” Elyamani said.

The suspect, identified as Lubyca Bozanich in a police report reviewed by Insider, also spit on Ebaid’s husband, Tamir Elhadad.

In videos posted by Ebaid online, the woman can be heard calling Elyamin and Ebaid, who both wear hijab, “ugly” and ridiculing how they’re dressed.

“Why do you have clothes like that?” Bozanich said in the video. “You’re ugly! No wonder people hate you! Israelis rule because you guys are ugly.”

Ebaid said the women also yelled racist profanities, including the n-word, at a Black employee and later on a Black police officer who showed up to the scene, alongside anti-Asian sentiments.

Elyamin said Bozanich was staring at her from the moment she walked into the store.

“She was looking at me up and down, like, from top to bottom,” Elyamin said. “I felt like I was targeted.”

Ebaid said she started recording because she was worried. Her initial intention was to record what was happening for police but did not intend to put the video online.

Post by Nahla Ebaid.

Bozanich can be seen calling the police on video while hurling racist remarks at the family.

“There’s Muslims here that are threatening me,” she said.

An employee intervenes and tells Bozanich: “Leave them alone. They’re humans.”

Bozanich responds: “No, they’re not. They’re Muslims.”

When the police showed up, they arrested Bozanich. In the video, one officer asked her where she was originally from. She responded that she’s originally from Ukraine. The officer tells her: “Why don’t you go back to Ukraine then?”

As she was handcuffed, Bozanich pleaded with officers not to arrest her and said she had Muslim friends. Elhadad can be heard saying he forgives her, but Elyamin and Ebaid said they’re not able to forgive the woman yet.

“I hate looking at the video. I hate watching the video. It really hurts me. I feel violated, again. Stripped out of my rights,” Elyamin said.

Ebaid said it wasn’t an easy decision to post the video, but she wanted to send a message to Muslims that in situations like these they should stand up for themselves and call the police, and that they also have rights.

“I want people to learn about Islam and really know what Islam is about. At the same time, whoever’s Muslim don’t be quiet for any of this. You need to stand up, you need to call the cops. You need to get your rights,” Elaymin said.

Omar Saleh, an attorney with the Council on Islamic Relations who has been helping Obeid, says the couple doesn’t have plans to pursue any legal charges at this time. However, he added that Bozaniach appears to be a licensed psychotherapist and they are looking at avenues to bring this concern up with any authorizing board because they feel she is not qualified to be assisting people.

A google search turned up results for a physiotherapy business run by Bozaniach.

“I think it’s going to be important to contact the administrative boards responsible for issuing those licenses. I think if she is a licensed therapist or a doctor or whatever, professional licensure she holds if we do find that out, I will advise Nahla to seek a complaint with that board for that conduct because I don’t want somebody like that treating people. That’s one option, but I don’t think it’s going to go beyond that,” Saleh said.

Ebeid added: “We need to protect the people from this woman. How is she a physiotherapist, a doctor, how come?”

Elyamin said the character the woman exhibited towards them “does not suit her profession at all.”

Insider has reached to Bozanich for comment.

While the incident was unsettling, both Elyamin and Ebeid said they’d continue to wear their hijabs proudly.

“We’re Muslim and we’re proud we’re Muslim and this is not going to change, we’re not going to kick off our hijabs. We like it and I’m not scared,” Ebeid said.

Walgreens did not reply to Insider’s email request for comment at the time of publication.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at salarshani@insider.com

Read the original article on Insider