Attack In Avon Leaves Muslim Couple Shaken

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Matthew Tully –


Bouchra Bahda, 42, was assaulted near the entrance of a Walmart in Avon recently.(Photo: Matthew Tully )

As a husband, he wants to know why. Why would someone walk up behind his wife in a crowded public space in a safe community and hit her with a blow that, although violent, left the couple with more questions than actual pain.

Was it because of the traditional Muslim clothing she wore that day?

“What was he thinking?” the husband, Abdelhakim Ejjair, said as we talked recently. “Does he hate Muslims? I just want know what was in his head. What was the reason?”

As Ejjair sat in his Far-Westside apartment Tuesday, his wife, Bouchra Bahda, on the couch nearby, he recalled details of the incident that took place a few weeks ago. It was a comfortable afternoon filled with routine family chores, one of them being a stop for groceries at the Wal-Mart in Avon.

The couple had just left the store when they realized they had forgotten to buy something on their shopping list. Bahda returned to the store while her husband loaded the car and watched over their children, ages 5 and 6.

That’s when it happened. Near the entrance, on a day when many customers were entering and exiting the store, a young man zeroed in on Bahda and, from behind, struck her with a hard downswipe on the shoulder.

“She got mad — really, really mad,” Ejjair said, translating for his wife, 42, who speaks Arabic and French but only limited English. “This has never happened to her in her life.”

Ejjair and his wife are natives of Morocco and have permanent resident status in the United States. He moved here in 1998, hoping to get a college degree in engineering, but has worked in food service at a Downtown hotel since arriving, often holding other jobs on the side to pay the bills. Bahda joined him after they married in 2007. Their experience here has been positive, they say.

With the exception of that recent afternoon.

Ejjair saw the assault and raced from the family’s car, confronting the young man, who immediately asked if the older man wanted to fight. A slight of frame 48-year-old, Ejjair said he almost took the assailant up on the offer.

“I was mad and I felt like I wanted to fight him,” he said. “But my kids were with us, and I thought about what they would think, and I didn’t want to lose everything for pride.”

Instead, he pulled out his mobile phone and called police. The man fled, stopping to talk with a group in a red pickup truck before leaving the parking lot. A Wal-Mart surveillance video, police say, corroborates the story, but the suspect has not been located.

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