Muslim teen girl's hijab stolen in attack at Perimeter Mall

Police are searching for a suspect.

DUNWOODY, Ga. -- Police and the victim's family says what happened in the parking lot of the Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody Friday evening is horrifying.

As a 14-year-old girl was leaving a restaurant with a friend and her friend's mom, a man ran up from behind and snatched off her Muslim headdress -- her hijab -- and screamed at her.

"Terrorist, a couple of times, and ran off in an unknown direction," said Dunwoody Police Sgt. Aaron Belt.

The suspect ran off with her hijab in hand.

"She says he appeared to be drunk, but she wasn't sure," said the 14-year-old's mother on Tuesday.

The teen's mother, concerned for their family's safety, decided to speak to 11Alive News by telephone. When her daughter returned home, she explained how the assault unfolded.

"He kept tugging and tugging, and she realized he was tugging on her hijab," she said.

Because the suspect was screaming, "Terrorist," the teen knew she was being attacked because of her Muslim faith.

"I think she was more afraid and surprised as to what was happening," the mother said.

Days have since passed, but her mother is still overcome with emotion.

"More rage and anger than anything else," she said.

The suspect's description is very vague.

"It's just a white male," Sgt. Belt said.

"Hate speech is bad, hate crimes are worse, but hate crimes directed at a 14-year-old girl are evil," said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR-Georgia.

The Atlanta Council on American-Islamic Relations -- CAIR -- believes the current national climate is fueling the hatred and assaults.

"We're used to hearing complaints about anti-Muslim discrimination and even hate speech, but this one went beyond the pale, so we're pretty shocked," Mitchell said.

"It finally hit home when it happened to her," the mother said.

The victim's mother says lately, her family is seeing more stories of such acts of violence against Muslims on social media. She says she believes no one should be targeted because of their faith.

"In my opinion, who is the terrorist?"

CAIR-Georgia is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the crime. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Tim Waldron with the Dunwoody Police Department at 678-382-6911.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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