Woman Beaten For Not Speaking English Faces Attacker: ‘I Used To Be Carefree'
Asma Jama was enjoying dinner with friends at Applebee's in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, when Jodie Burchard-Risch approached her and told her to speak English or go back to her country.
Jama was speaking with her friends in Swahili. She told Burchard-Risch that she knows how to speak English and is an American citizen.
At this point, Burchard-Risch smashed a beer mug in Jama's face, causing her to need 17 stitches in her lip.
This happened back in October 2015. Since then, Burchard-Risch pled guilty to assault.
Jama was at the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, December 20, and gave a statement, speaking directly to Burchard-Risch.
She told Burchard-Risch how much the attack effected her. She said,
I used to be a carefree person, and now I can't go anywhere by myself. It really impacted my life for the good and for the bad too. I just wanted to say that I'm happy it's over.
Jama went on to tell Burchard-Risch, “What you did to me that day wasn't good,” and that she should not do something like this to anyone else.
But Jama still forgave her. She said,
But I just wanted to tell you in front of everybody today that I do forgive you. My religion teaches me to forgive so I can get on with my life.
If I hold a grudge, if I hold the hate you hold toward me against you, it's not going to serve me well. So, in front of everybody here, I do forgive you and I hope that you choose love over hate.
Jama said she does not have “ill feelings” for Burchard-Risch.
She finished her statement by saying she hopes Burchard-Risch learned something from this experience.
It doesn't matter what's on my head, it doesn't matter the color of my skin. We are all the same human beings, we are fighting for the same rights.
I am an American citizen and I would fight for it today as much as you would.
So I just want you to understand you hit somebody you didn't know anything about. I do speak English, I speak very well English, I work every single day just like you do, Jodie.
So I hope you learn at the end of all this we are all the same, there's no difference between me and you.
Burchard-Risch was sentenced to six months in prison and up to five years of probation.
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