Avon woman says store lot attack was a hate crime

Abdelhakim and Bouchra Ejjair
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A woman says she was attacked for no other reason than her religion at an Avon grocery store.

Bouchra Ejjair was not physically hurt, but the incident left a deep emotional scar. Police say the attack happened July 27 at the Walmart on Rockville Road in Avon.

"I was confused. Just, confused and mad," said Abdelhakim Ejjair, an American citizen who immigrated from Morocco 17 years ago. He said he's never experienced anything like what happened to his wife, Bouchra, also a Moroccan immigrant.

"I feel racism," Bouchra said in broken English.

Bouchra was going in to make a purchase at the Walmart when she was attacked. Out of the blue, a young man or teen turned and hit her.

"He was looking at her like this," said Abdelhakim, looking over his shoulder. "He follow her and he smack her in this side," he continued, showing how someone hit his wife on the shoulder blade.

Since she was wearing a hijab, a head covering worn by devout Muslim women, the couple has come to one conclusion.

"This is a very bad hate crime," said Abdelhakeem.

"I think it's important for every one of us to be concerned," explained Dr. Razi Nalim, vice president of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana.

He said attacks like this don't occur often in central Indiana.

"We do need to investigate and make sure it happens very rarely, if ever again," said Nalim.

Abdelhakim and his wife share that hope.

"Did that hurt you?" Abdelhakim asked his wife.

"Yeah, it hurt me," she responded.

But admittedly, the physical pain of being hit isn't nearly as deep as the emotional damage.

"Yeah, sad. Very sad...very sad," said Abdelhakim.

Avon police say security cameras captured the attack. They won't release the video or discuss details related to this incident and are investigating this as a misdemeanor battery, not a hate crime.