A 38-weeks pregnant Muslim hijabi woman, 31 was brutally punched and stomped in an unprovoked Islamophobic attack by Stipe Lozina, 43 on Wednesday night 20 November in a cafe in Parramatta, Western Sydney.
This comes in the wake of an alarming second report on Islamophobia in Australia released last Sunday followed by its launch yesterday on Thursday 21 November 2019 during a timely day-long conference in the same suburb, Parramatta titled “Collaborative approaches to counter far-right wing and Islamophobia threats”.
Public Statement by the victim:
“First and foremost I would like to start by thanking all the people who came to see me, those who have offered kind words and comfort through messages and calls, as well as those who have messaged their support through various Facebook posts. I want to sincerely thank each and every one of you, it truly means a lot. I have always been a very private person and don’t normally take to social media to post or comment on anything, however, I felt like this time, it was important to address a few issues and raise awareness. I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia.
I am a Muslim. I have experienced occurrences of verbal abuse and hate from other Australians in the past but I have never thought that physical abuse of this nature could happen to me. For me, the verbal abuse was already too much and I know the Islamic community feels the same. It is NOT ok. How somebody feels like they have the right to abuse another human being baffles me. It shows a lack of humanity. It shows weakness. It shows that you do not possess basic human empathy and kindness and those are the kinds of people who do not deserve to be part of our Australian community. This man verbalised his hatred of Muslims prior to hitting me.
He decided that he was going to take it in his power to act upon his hatred and he neither knows me, nor my religion. I do not want this attack to happen to anyone ever again. I want to see a world where people defend one another against cowardly acts like this and band together to protect the victims. We cannot allow behaviour like this to become the norm and sit silent. I thank the people who stepped in that night in my defence.
And to my friends who did not hesitate to step in for me, you are more like sisters to me and I am so grateful for what you both did. You have allowed me to step away from this and go home to my family. The overwhelming support I have received is a reflection that this was a story that many can relate to. We are mothers, wives, daughters… and we deserve to feel safe wherever we go.
We deserve a night out to unwind without being fearful of an attack like this happening again. I fear for the world our children will grow up in, if this issue is not addressed. I call all Australians, Muslim or non-muslims, of all faiths and cultures to come together, as you have already done for me, and voice your solidarity in protecting innocent people from any future racial/religious attacks. I hope the justice system lives up to it’s name. and I also hope a proactive approach is taken against any potential future offenders.
I thank Allah (swt) – As salaam, Al aleem, Al hakim.”
The attack was clearly recorded by two cameras at the location showing in detail how the incident took place at a cafe in Church Street in Parramatta on Wednesday night at 10.30 pm.
The attack seem to be a random Islamophobic attack on the woman who was sitting on a table with two other woman identifiable as Muslims due to their hijabs and none of them was known to the attacker.
Both footage shows the man walking into the cafe, possibly uttering Islamophobic rants and then suddenly leaning over and punching the victim several times in the head and upper body, causing her to fall to the ground, stomping on her head as her friends tried to hold him back.
The friends of the women heroically fought off the attacker, one of them using a chair to push him down while other bystanders came to their aid restraining him and helping his arrest by the police.
The woman suffered a number of bruises and had swelling and was emotionally and physically traumatised. She was taken to Westmead Hospital but was discharged on Thursday. The condition of the unborn child is not known.
Inspector Luke Sywenkyj on Thursday morning said, “As a result of the assault she does seem somewhat emotionally and physically traumatised. Our police investigation at this stage is still in its infancy but the assault would appear to be completely random and unprovoked.”
Insp Sywenkyj said he wanted to personally commend members of the community for their “brave action” in coming to the woman’s defence.
“If it was not for the brave actions of all these members of the community in stopping the assault the victim may very well have sustained much more serious injuries,” Mr Sywenkyj said.
Stipe Lozina appeared before Parramatta Local Court later on Thursday charged with affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm and was refused bail to next appear on 5 December.
Magistrate Tim Keady told Lozina in court: “After making a comment about Muslims, you approached her and punched her to the head 14 times. For bail purposes I will treat that as a very strong case against you.”
Lozina has now been charged by Police for also stalking and intimidating two other women aged 29 and 63 on 1 October in Liverpool.
The same day Stipe Lozina appeared in the Parramatta Court, A high powered day-long conference was held at nearby Novotel Hotel on countering threat of Islamophobia in Australia.
The keynote speaker, Prof Tahir Abbas from Leiden University, Netherlands spoke on “Countering violent extremism, the extremist right-wing and Islamophobia threats – a whole society approach” while the lead author of the Islamophobia report. Dr Derya Iner talked on “Manifestations of Islamophobia in the Australian context – the latest findings from the Islamophobia in Australia Report II”.
There were a number of panels and presentations dealing with the impact of violent extremism, the extremist right-wing and Islamophobia on society and communities; short rapid-fire presentations on latest research related to right-wing extremism; outcomes and potential solutions to the problems and commitment for action.
The conference was organised by Charles Sturt University, NSW Government, All Together Now and ISRA.
AMUST will be producing a detailed report on the conference in its December print issue and on its website/weekly newsletter very soon.