When A Somali-American Woman Was Attacked, Support Came From An Unlikely Source Asma Jama was struck in the face with a glass mug after speaking Swahili in a restaurant in Minnesota. After the trial ended and the attacker pleaded guilty, the attacker's sister reached out to Jama.
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When A Somali-American Woman Was Attacked, Support Came From An Unlikely Source

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When A Somali-American Woman Was Attacked, Support Came From An Unlikely Source

When A Somali-American Woman Was Attacked, Support Came From An Unlikely Source

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's Friday and time for StoryCorps - and today, a story about a woman who was attacked in public and who found support from an unlikely source.

In 2015, Asma Jama was out to dinner with her family at an Applebee's in Coon Rapids, Minn. Asma, who is Somali-American and Muslim, was wearing a hijab and speaking Swahili when a woman seated nearby demanded she speak English. She then smashed Asma in the face with a beer mug.

ASMA JAMA: I could see it from the doctor's face that it was really bad. I had lacerations across my chest, all over my hands and 17 total stitches.

GREENE: Asma's attacker was convicted of assault and jailed. After the trial, the attacker's sister, Dawn Sahr, contacted Asma online. And at StoryCorps, they met in person for the first time.

DAWN SAHR: I wanted to reach out to you so much. I just wanted to know that you were OK. That was my biggest concern.

JAMA: That was my biggest concern, too. I used to be carefree. I used to go everywhere by myself. I would say hi to strangers. But after what happened to me, I felt like I have to look over my shoulder every time I go outside.

SAHR: I'm so sorry you had to go through that.

JAMA: Did you stop talking to her because of what she did to me?

SAHR: I did, yeah.

JAMA: Why can't you forgive her?

SAHR: Because then it's telling Jodie that it's OK, and it's not OK.

Do you feel like you can't speak Swahili in public anymore?

JAMA: Yes because I realize I don't belong. I have to prove myself every single day, and - makes me feel like I had to give up a lot of who I was.

SAHR: I'm going to pray that you can eventually become that person you used to be.

JAMA: I will get there. It's going to take me a while. But for you to stand up for somebody you don't know and to say that what she did was unacceptable - that meant the world to me.

SAHR: I will support you in any possible way I can. You know, they say blood's thicker than water, and you stand behind your family no matter what. Well, you've got to draw a line somewhere. And you're my line.

JAMA: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF KAI ENGEL'S "HOPES AND DREAMS")

GREENE: That was Asma Jama with Dawn Sahr, who's the sister of the woman who attacked Asma for speaking Swahili. They spoke at StoryCorps in Minneapolis. And their interview is archived at the Library of Congress.

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