Home / English News / Muslim Somali woman who was smashed in the face with a beer mug at Applebee’s for speaking Swahili forgives her attacker in court.

Muslim Somali woman who was smashed in the face with a beer mug at Applebee’s for speaking Swahili forgives her attacker in court.

A woman who was struck with a glass beer mug at a Minnesota Applebee’s for speaking a foreign language came face to face with her attacker in court this week and offered the woman her forgiveness.

‘I hope that you choose love over hate’:

  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
  • Jodie Burchard-Risch received 180 days in jail and five years probation
  • Burchard-Risch struck Asma Jama with glass mug at Applebee’s in Minnesota 
  • Criminal complaint states Burchard-Risch was upset because Jama, who is Muslim of Somali descent, was speaking to her family in a foreign language 
  • Jama suffered deep gash to her lip that required 17 stitches and other cuts 
  • During sentencing Tuesday, Jama told her attacker  she has forgiven her

Jodie Burchard-Risch, 44, of Ramsey, was sentenced on Tuesday to 180 days in jail followed by five years of probation, along with alcohol monitoring and counseling, after she pleaded guilty in October to third-degree assault in the attack on Asma Jama.

According to a criminal complaint, Burchard-Risch was dining at an Applebee’s in Coon Rapids on October 30, 2015, when she overhead Jama, who is Muslim of Somali descent, speaking Swahili to her family and became upset.

Asma Jama

Jodie Burchard-Risch

Forgiveness: Asma Jama (left) on Tuesday came face-to-face with Jodie Burchard-Risch (right), the woman who attacked her with a beer mug last year, and said she has forgiven her

Dinnertime brawl: Jama was dining at an Applebee's in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, in October 2015 when Burchard-Risch assaulted her for speaking a foreign language 

Dinnertime brawl: Jama was dining at an Applebee’s in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, in October 2015 when Burchard-Risch assaulted her for speaking a foreign language

The document detailed how the irate patron yelled at Jama to either speak English or go back to her country, then refused to leave when a restaurant employee tried to step in.

Without any provocation, Burchard-Risch, who was sitting in a nearby booth, threw a drink at Jama, then grabbed a glass beer mug and smashed it in the woman’s face before fleeing.

The attack left Jama with a deep bloody gash on her lip that required 17 stitches, as well as cuts to her nose and right eye.

Jama, who came to Minnesota from Kenya in 2000 and is a US citizen, told Minnesota Public Radio last year she could not believe that after all these years, a stranger attacked her for being different.

Bloody aftermath: Jama  suffered a deep bloody gash on her lip that required 17 stitches

Bloody aftermath: Jama  suffered a deep bloody gash on her lip that required 17 stitches

A cut is seen above Jama's right eye

Jama sustained injuries to her lip and nose

The woman also suffered a cut to her eye (left) and a laceration on her nose (right)

She also said that the violent assault left her fearful for her safety.

At Burchard-Risch’s sentencing at Anoka County Court on Tuesday, Asma Jama reiterated that more than a year after the attack, she is still living in fear.

‘I use to be a carefree person, and now I can’t go anywhere by myself,’ Jama said, addressing her attacker seated impassively at the defense table.

At times holding back tears, Jama said she still carries within her the trauma of the attack but she bears Burchard-Risch no ill will, reported the station WCCO.

‘My religion teaches me to forgive so I can get on with my life,’ Jama told Burchard-Risch. ‘In front of everybody here, I do forgive you and I hope that you choose love over hate. … I just want you to understand at the end of this that we are all the same.’

At Burchard-Risch's sentencing at Anoka County Court on Tuesday, Asma Jama said that more than a year after the attack, she is still living in fear

At Burchard-Risch’s sentencing at Anoka County Court on Tuesday, Asma Jama said that more than a year after the attack, she is still living in fear

At times holding back tears, Jama, who is Muslim of Somali descent, said her religion teaches her to forgive

Burchard-Risch (left) said nothing in response

Emotional: At times holding back tears, Jama (left), who is Muslim of Somali descent, said her religion teaches her to forgive. Burchard-Risch’s (right) said nothing in response

The defendant, who spent much of the hearing staring straight ahead or looking down at her hands on the table, said nothing in response and issued no statements after the sentencing, but her attorney , Rod Tschida, said he does not see his client as a ‘lunatic’ or a’ racist.’

‘I see her as someone not unlike many others that come before the court that has an alcohol problem that brought her here,’ he said.

Burchard-Risch was on probation for a past DWI incident when she attacked Jama last year, according to Fox 9. If she violates the conditions of her supervised release, the 44-year-old could face a 37-month prison term.

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