While on vacation in Fort Lauderdale, a New York couple stopped by Walgreens and were greeted with an Islamaphobic and racist rant from a woman who declined to wear a mask when asked.
The incident was captured on video and shared on Facebook by Egyptian-American Nahla Ebaid. Ebaid told Insider that she, her husband, and their friend Angie Elyamani were shopping when the woman entered the store without a mask.
The woman was asked to put on a mask by an employee, but instead, she turned her focus and attention onto the group.
“She rolls her eyes and looked at me and said: ‘you know, I wish I was from your country, so I don’t have to wear the mask,” Elyamani said.
In a police report reviewed by Insider, the perpetrator, identified as Lubyca Bozanich, also spat on Ebaid’s husband, Tamir Elhadad.
The woman can be heard calling Elyamin and Ebaid, who both wear hijab, “ugly,” and ridiculing their attire in videos shared by Ebaid online.
“Why do you have clothes like that?” Bozanich says. “You’re ugly! No wonder people hate you! Israelis rule because you guys are ugly.”
The women also allegedly screamed racial profanities, including the n-word, at a Black employee and later a Black police officer who arrived on the scene, along with anti-Asian sentiments.
According to Elyamin, Bozanich was looking at her from the moment she walked into the store.
Bozanich was looking at Elyamin from the moment she stepped into the shop, according to Elyamin.
“She was looking at me up and down, like, from top to bottom,” Elyamin said. “I felt like I was targeted.”
Ebaid explained that she began recording because she was concerned. Her original plan was to film what was going on for the police, but she had no intention of posting the video online.
Bozanich can be seen in the videos calling the cops and making derogatory remarks.
She says, “There are Muslims here that are threatening me.”
Bozanich is overheard being told by an employee: “Leave them alone. They’re humans.”
Bozanich’s replied, “No, they’re not. They’re Muslims.”
When the police apprehended Bozanich, one officer asks her where she’s from in a video, and she responds that she’s from Ukraine. “Why don’t you go back to Ukraine?” the officer suggests.
In the video, Bozanich can be heard arguing with the officers not to arrest her and that she has Muslim friends while handcuffed. Elhadad is heard telling her that he forgives her, but Elyamini and Ebaid, on the other hand, said they weren’t able to forgive her just yet.
Elyamini said, “I hate looking at the video. I hate watching the video. It really hurts me. I feel violated again, stripped out of my rights.”
While posting the video was not an easy decision, Ebaid said she wanted to send a message to Muslims that they should stand up for themselves and call the police in cases like these, and that they, too, have rights.
“I want people to learn about Islam and really know what Islam is about,” Elyamini added. “At the same time, whoever’s Muslim, don’t be quiet for any of this. You need to stand up. You need to call the cops. You need to get your rights.”
According to Omar Saleh, the couple had no intention to take legal action, an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations who has been assisting Ebaid. However, he did add that Bozanich claimed to be a licensed psychotherapist and that they were looking at ways to raise this issue with any approving board because they believe she is unqualified to help people.
A simple Google search found a therapy business associated with Bozanich.
“I think it’s going to be important to contact the administrative boards responsible for issuing those licenses,” Saleh said. “I think if she is a licensed therapist or a doctor or whatever professional licensure she holds, if we do find that out, I will advise Nahla to seek a complaint with that board for that conduct because I don’t want somebody like that treating people. That’s one option, but I don’t think it’s going to go beyond that.”
Ebaid added, “We need to protect the people from this woman.”
The woman’s demeanor toward them, according to Elyamini, “does not suit her profession at all.”
While the incident was disheartening, Elyamini and Ebaid stated that they will continue to proudly wear their hijabs.
“We’re Muslim, and we’re proud we’re Muslim, and this is not going to change,” Ebaid said. “We’re not going to kick off our hijabs. We like it, and I’m not scared.”