Long Beach police on Wednesday asked for the public's help to find a man who attacked a woman and ripped a hijab from her head in what is being called a hate crime.
The attack happened July 2 about 4:30 p.m. in the parking lot of a shopping center in the 4000 block of Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said at a news conference Wednesday.
The victim was wearing a black hijab, a headscarf or cover worn by Muslim women to conceal their hair and neck, when she was loading shopping items into her car, McDonald said.
A man ran up behind her, cursed at her while referring to her hijab, and forcibly pulled and twisted the hijab, police said. He choked the woman, leaving bruises and scratches on her neck.
The man then walked down an alley near where the woman was parked and took the hijab with him, police said.
The fact that the man knew the word for the covering showed he had some knowledge of Muslim culture, McDonnell said.
The victim and her family are from Iraq, Muslim Public Affairs Council President Salam Al-Marayati said during the conference.
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"It is ironic that they fled violence and persecution and civil strife there to have this woman subjected to violence here because of what she wore," Al-Marayati said. "It is our American duty to defend her and defend all women subjected to this kind of violence."
Because the attack happened in broad daylight in a busy shopping center, police are hoping witnesses will come forward.
Police said the incident appears to be isolated and is being investigated as a hate crime.
The attacker is described as a white man in his 30s about 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall with a thin build. He has short brown hair and brown eyes, a trimmed brown mustache and beard, and was last seen wearing a white buttoned shirt with black pants and possibly black shoes.
Anyone with information should call the Long Beach Police Department.