In October 2015, Asma Jama was assaulted at Applebee´s in Coon Rapids, Minnesota for speaking Swahili instead of English.
Jama was eating dinner with her family and speaking in their native language, Swahili, when she was attacked by Jodi Burchard, who smashed a beer mug across Jama´s face in a roundhouse-punch and then ran from the restaurant.
Applebee´s employees followed her until police arrived to take her into custody; the punch caused deep cuts to Jama´s nose, right eye and lower lip.
Jama says she still carries the scars, but she does not carry hate in her heart for her attacker.
Jama asked permission to the Judge to speak with Burchard in front of a packed courtroom “My religion teaches me to forgive so I can get on with my life. If I hold a grudge, if I hold the hate you hold towards me against you, it´s not going to serve me well. So in front of everybody here, I do forgive you and I hope that you choose love over hate”.
Burchard had nothing to say to the court or to Jama. Burchard was sentenced Tuesday December 20, 2016 to six months in prison and up to five years of probation. Jama will continue to be an advocate to enhance hate crime laws in Minnesota.