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Muslim civil rights group wants criminal charges against man who harassed Moorhead woman

MOORHEAD - The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking Moorhead authorities to file criminal charges against a man accused of harassing a pregnant Muslim woman wearing a hijab."We urge law enforcement authorities ...

Fardoso Mohamed talks Monday, March 20, 2017, in Moorhead about how another customer harassed her and shouted at her to remove her hijab when she went grocery shopping Saturday.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Fardoso Mohamed talks Monday, March 20, 2017, in Moorhead about how another customer harassed her and shouted at her to remove her hijab when she went grocery shopping Saturday. Forum file photo.

MOORHEAD - The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking Moorhead authorities to file criminal charges against a man accused of harassing a pregnant Muslim woman wearing a hijab.

"We urge law enforcement authorities to reconsider bringing charges in this case based on Minnesota statutes prohibiting stalking and harassment," CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said in a statement.

The harassment reportedly occurred over the weekend at Hornbacher's supermarket, 101 11th St. S. Moorhead police Lt. Tory Jacobson said on Monday, March 20, that it did not appear a crime had been committed. Though, he said the investigation was ongoing.

After CAIR-MN released its statement Tuesday, March 21, Jacobson said the investigation is still open and that police are trying to identify the man through surveillance video and interview him.

"This is something that warrants additional follow-up, and we'd like to learn more about this obviously disturbing and concerning allegation," he said, adding that criminal charges are possible.

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Once the investigation is done, the case may be submitted to the Clay County Attorney's Office for a decision on whether to file charges, Jacobson said. Under Minnesota law, stalking is defined as conduct which the perpetrator "knows or has reason to know would cause the victim under the circumstances to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated."

The woman wearing the hijab, Fardoso Mohamed, told The Forum she had just walked into Hornbacher's when a customer in his 60s or 70s told her to take off her hijab, a head-covering worn by some Muslim women.

Mohamed, who was with her 1-year-old son, said she ignored the man. He then shouted at her, telling her not to enter the store. He followed her and confronted her again about her hijab, and she told him it was "none of your business."

A Hornbacher's employee, also a woman wearing a head covering, told the man to show respect for Mohamed. The man eventually left the store, and Mohamed called police.

To bring the issue to light, Mohamed's friend made a video of her talking with police at the store, and posted it on Facebook. By Tuesday afternoon, the video had been viewed 61,000 times.

CAIR, a Washington-based Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said it's noticed "an unprecedented spike in hate incidents" aimed at Muslims and other minority groups since the Nov. 8 election.

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