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Muslim woman who was victim of hate crime in Brooklyn speaks out

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BATH BEACH, Brooklyn -- A Muslim woman who was the victim of a hate crime last month in Brooklyn is speaking out about the vicious attack.

The woman spoke exclusively with PIX11 News about how she and her 15-month-old child were the victims of a hate crime on September 8.

Out of fear of retaliation, the woman and her husband spoke through a Russian translator and asked PIX11 not to use their names or show their faces.

As she and another Muslim woman walked in Bath Beach, Brooklyn in the area of 20th Avenue and Cropsey Avenue, 32-year-old Emirjeta Xhelili allegedly launched into a vicious attack.

According to a criminal complaint, Xhelili hit the victims with her fists multiple times, then "pushed the (victim’s) stroller toward the ground" and "tried to pull the (victim’s) hijab off (her) head."

Police say Xhelili also shouted at the Islamophobic comments at the Muslim women, telling them to leave America and they "don't belong here."

“First and foremost, I was afraid for my baby and like any other mother in this time, this is my main concern," the victim told PIX11. "I wasn’t concerned for my own life or well-being, but the baby is what scared me the most."

NYPD officers responding to the attack said Xhelili didn’t even stop the attack when they showed up and continued to spew racially charged words towards the victims. Evidence of hate-filled language continued on Xhelili’s Facebook page, which was flooded with anti-Muslim and anti-black remarks.

According to groups like the Council for American and Islamic Relations, Islamophobic attacks are on the rise across the country. Muslim women wearing traditional Islamic head scarves in particular are falling victim more and more often, CAIR officials said.

The victim says she has worn a niqab -- an Islamic veil covering her entire face and body -- for three years now, but has never encountered anything like the attack she suffered last month.

Her husband says he's now scared to drop off the couple’s older children at school or let her run her usual errands.

“I had a feeling because of the environment now changing so rapidly, so fast, that one day, yes, it may happen with my family," the husband said. "We are not terrorists ... We are peaceful. We want peace and that’s why we came here to be with American people. To be peaceful, to be a strong nation."

Xhelili continues to sit behind bars. Her bail was set at $50,000. She is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 16.

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