A heavily pregnant Muslim woman who was repeatedly punched and stomped on during a suspected racially motivated attack in a western Sydney cafe says she “fears for the world our children will grow up in”.
Rana Elasmar, 31, was sitting in a cafe on Church Street with friends when Stipe Lozina, 43, allegedly attacked her after a tirade of insults.
“I have experienced occurrences of verbal abuse and hate … but I have never thought that physical abuse of this nature could happen to me,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
“This man verbalised his hatred of Muslims prior to hitting me. I do not want this attack to happen to anyone ever again.”
Ms Elasmar, who is 38 weeks pregnant, said she wants 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 made specific mention of her two friends, who immediately stepped to her defence.
“You are more like sisters to me and I am so grateful for what you both did. You have allowed me to step away from this and go home to my family,” she said.
WARNING: This video may have distressing content for some viewers.
NSW Police Inspector Luke Sywenkyj echoed those sentiments.
“If it were not for the brave actions of these members of the community in stopping the assault, the victim may well have sustained much more serious injuries,” he said.
Mr Lozina was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray. On Thursday, he made an unsuccessful application for bail.
Ms Elasmar said the support she had received has been “overwhelming” and that this incident was something many could relate to.
“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,” she said.
The victim (Rana Haidar) posted on her Facebook page:
First and foremost I would like to start by thanking all the people who came to see me, those who have offered kind words and comfort through messages and calls, as well as those who have messaged their support through various Facebook posts. I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you, it truly means a lot. I have always been a very private person and don’t normally take to social media to post or comment on anything, however, I felt like this time, it was important to address a few issues and raise awareness.
I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. I am a Muslim. I have experienced occurrences of verbal abuse and hate from other Australians in the past but I have never thought that physical abuse of this nature could happen to me.
For me, the verbal abuse was already too much and I know the Islamic community feels the same. It is NOT ok. How somebody feels like they have the right to abuse another human being baffles me. It shows a lack of humanity. It shows weakness. It shows that you do not possess basic human empathy and kindness and those are the kinds of people who do not deserve to be part of our Australian community.
This man verbalised his hatred of Muslims prior to hitting me. He decided that he was going to take it in his power to act upon his hatred and 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. I thank the people who stepped in that night in my defence. And to my friends who did not hesitate to step in for me, you are more like sisters to me and I am so grateful for what you both did. You have allowed me to step away from this and go home to my family. The overwhelming support I have received is a reflection that this was a story that many can relate to.
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-muslims, 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.
I hope the justice system lives up to it’s name.. and I also hope a proactive approach is taken against any potential future offenders.
I thank Allah (swt) – As salaam, Al aleem, Alhakim
Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan said, “Islamophobic abuse is unacceptable and no person should suffer hatred because of their race, religion or culture.
“Australian society has a responsibility to ensure the safety of its Muslim communities, and we must be united in condemning Islamophobia and all forms of racial hatred,” Mr Tan said.
Mr Tan will be speaking on November 21 at Charles Sturt University’s Centre for Islamic Studies to help launch the Islamophobia in Australia 2019 report.