The last thing Mirna Yazji ever expected to have happen in the small Nova Scotian community she’s grown to love and embrace was a racially-motivated attack, which resulted in assault charges against her assailants.
“I remembered I cried for three hours after this,” she said.
Yazji immigrated to Canada from Syria several years ago and has since settled in New Glasgow, N.S. She says she fell in love with the close-knit community and that’s what led her to open up her own restaurant.
She’s close with other small business owners in the area and was catching up with one this past Tuesday night, when she says a woman she’s never met before began demanding to know where she’s from.
“And (the woman) keep asking me, ‘Where you from? You have accent, where you from?’ And I looked at her and said, ‘I’m Nova Scotian,’” she said.
Yazji said the woman refused to accept that she was from Nova Scotia and became very hostile. That’s when things escalated to a violent point — something Yazji says she still can’t believe happened.
“She literally jumped on me and put me on the floor and beat me,” she said.
Yazji says she managed to get away and immediately phoned the police.
Two people were arrested and charged at the scene.
“And as a result, New Glasgow Regional Police are continuing to investigate it as a hate-motivated assault.”
Police say a 35-year-old woman and 49-year-old man were charged with assault and have since been released on strict conditions.
Yazji says she’s happy her attackers have been charged, but adds she wishes it never happened in the first place.
“Those people can’t just get away with this and think it’s okay to treat people like this. It’s not okay. It’s not okay to hurt people, it’s not okay to judge people,” she said.
“It’s not okay. It’s not right.”
Yazji says she plans on moving forward with her small business and life in New Glasgow but says she won’t hesitate to stand up for herself if she ever experiences another form of racist attack.
“I want to tell everyone in this country, no matter where I came from, Canada’s home and no one can take this from me,” she said.
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