Customers defend shopper wearing hijab after woman calls her terrorist

  • Joy Johnston
  • Cox Media Group National Content Desk
12:31 p.m Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 National/World News

What began as an ugly incident Wednesday in a New Mexico grocery store ended up earning praise from a civil rights group.

At Smith’s grocery store in Albuquerque, a woman began yelling at another shopper wearing a hijab. Witnesses told The Albuquerque Journal that the woman screamed, “You’re a terrorist, get out of here.”

Store manager Andrew Castillo said the woman directed a slew of racist remarks at the female shopper wearing the hijab. As employees and customers became aware of what was happening, they sprang into action, demanding that the woman yelling insults leave the premises, and providing an escort for the Muslim woman so she could get to her car. Other witnesses took photos and videos to provide evidence of the incident to police, who arrived within approximately five minutes.

The woman who had the outburst has not been located, but a commenter on Facebook said she is well-known in the area and may be mentally ill.

The Center for American-Islamic Relations praised the store employees and shoppers for coming to the Muslim woman’s assistance. Castillo said that the Muslim woman who was harassed returned to the store a few hours later to thank the staff for their help.

Shopper Barney Lopez posted an image from the incident on Facebook, saying he hopes the woman who unleashed the racist tirade can get help. He told The Albuquerque Journal that while the incident upset him, the willingness of so many different people to help gives him hope.

View full experience