A New Jersey mother of two teenage Muslim girls is expressing outrage after a woman was charged with bias intimidation for allegedly yelling at the girls and hitting one at a nail salon in Clifton, approximately 10 miles outside Newark.
“It is a nightmare for us," the woman, Fadwa, who did not want her last name used for fear of retaliation, told NBC Asian America. "I’ve been here in this country for many years. Then, something like this happens to my daughters. It’s like, what is going on?”
Nancy Jones, 59, allegedly approached the 13-year-old and 15-year-old girls in a nail salon, yelled profanities at them and told them to go back to their country before striking the younger girl in the head on April 30, according to Clifton Police Chief Thomas Rinaldi. Both victims were wearing hijabs.
The two girls told their mother that Jones shouted at them for staring at her and yelled at another Muslim woman in the salon, mistaking her for their mother, according to Fadwa.
Fadwa, who has lived in the U.S. for over 25 years, said her daughters were waiting to get their nails done for Eid al-Fitr, a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
She said she called her daughter to see if they were done. “I felt that there was something wrong. And then she answered and she was crying. She told me, ‘Please come and pick us up,’” she said.
Fadwa said she returned to the nail salon and confronted Jones in the parking lot, where Jones yelled profanities at her before driving off. Fadwa said she spoke with other patrons at the salon who said the incident was unprovoked.
Jones was identified as the assailant and a warrant was issued for her arrest. She turned herself into Clifton police on May 25, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office said.
A lawyer for Jones could not be reached.
Jones has been charged with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, third degree, and bias intimidation, fourth degree. She is also charged with simple assault, a disorderly persons offense and two counts of harassment, petty disorderly persons offenses.
The prosecutor’s office declined to comment further.
Selaedin Maksut, the executive director of the New Jersey Council on American-Islamic Relations, who is working closely with Fadwa's family, condemned the attack.
“We are deeply troubled by this alleged bias-motivated behavior. Physically and verbally attacking two young girls to the point of tears is appalling," Maksut said in a statement. "We welcome the ongoing police investigation by Clifton officers and hope the matter is taken seriously and justice is done."