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Heavily pregnant woman viciously assaulted in Islamophobic attack

27th Dec 2019

Elham Asaad Buaras

A 43-year-old man from Sydney has been charged for viciously assaulting a heavily pregnant Muslim woman unprovoked, in what was described by a leading Australian Muslim association as an Islamophobic attack.

Shocking security camera footage from Parramatta café in Church Street showed Stipe Lozina approaching a table of three women wearing headscarves as they chatted at a cafe in the city on November 20.

Seemingly without provocation, the suspect is seen lunging over the table to attack 31-year- Rana Elasmar, who was at the time 38 weeks pregnant.

After several frenzied punches, Elasmar fell to the ground and was stamped on, before bystanders wrestled the assailant away. Elasmar was taken to hospital following the attack and discharged.

Lozina has been charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray and denied bail. Posting publicly on Facebook Elasmar said she has experienced verbal abuse and hate in the past but never thought “physical abuse of this nature could happen to me. How somebody feels like they have the right to abuse another human being baffles me. It shows a lack of humanity. It shows weakness,” Elasmar said in the post. Elasmar said her attacker “verbalised his hatred of Muslims before hitting me” but “he neither knows me nor my religion.”

“I do not want this attack to happen to anyone ever again. I want to see a world where people defend one another against cowardly acts like this and band together to protect the victims.
We cannot allow behaviour like this to become the norm and sit silent.”

She thanked her friends and members of the public who came to her aid, as well as thanking those who have offered support through social media posts, messages and phone calls.
“The overwhelming support I have received is a reflection that this was a story that many can relate to,” Elasmar said.

“We are mothers, wives, daughters, and we deserve to feel safe wherever we go. We deserve a night out to unwind without being fearful of an attack like this happening again. I fear for the world our children will grow up in if this issue is not addressed. I call all Australians, Muslim or non-Muslim, of all faiths and cultures to come together, as you have already done for me, and voice your solidarity in protecting innocent people from any future racial/religious attacks.”

The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said the man was heard “yelling anti-Muslim hate speech at the victim and her friends.”

Australian Federation of Islamic Councils President, Rateb Jneid said, “This was a racist and Islamophobic attack, and we expect it to be treated as such. If it were not for the brave actions of these members of the community in stopping the assault, the victim may very well have sustained much more serious injuries,” said Police Inspector Luke Sywenkyj.

The attack came days after a Charles Sturt University report into Islamophobia in Australia prompted fears abuse was spilling into the open.

The report found that of all reported non-online Islamophobic incidents in Australia in 2016 and 2017, more than half occurred in guarded or patrolled areas and security guards did not deter the abuse. Of 349 total incidents, almost three quarters were carried out against women, while 96 per cent of non-online female victims were wearing a hijab.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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