Asma Elhuni, a graduate student at Georgia State University and an intern for Democratic state Rep. Brenda Lopez, posted a video on Jan. 28 of a man who was harassing her in a coffee shop in East Atlanta (video below).
Elhuni, who is Muslim and was wearing a hijab, added this caption with her video on Facebook:
Fight back with your cameras y'all. This is Rob from Detroit. He came in and thought it's ok to take his camera out and take a pic of me. I asked are you taking [a] pic of me? He said yes. I said why, he said I want to. So I took out my phone and started [recording] him. [S]pread widely. Racists feel emboldened now.
Elhuni recalled the incident, which went viral with over one million views, to Creative Loafing: "I was just literally on my computer, minding my business, and I look up and see a guy with a camera pointing at me. I’m like, are you taking a picture of me? And he goes: 'Yeah.' Just like that! And so I was like: 'OK, I’ll take a picture of you.' And he smiled, and I was like, OK, I’m going to videotape him now."
In Elhuni's video, she asks Rob if he enjoys taking pictures of her, and he smirks and chuckles to himself.
Rob eventually sits down near her, asks why she is so "uptight," says that he was filming a DJ and accuses her of "acting like a bitch."
Rob goes on to ask Elhuni, an American citizen, if she has a "green card." At this point, an unidentified man seems to wave him away.
"Really what I wanted to show him was, one, what he did was inappropriate, and two, I’m not afraid of you," Elhuni told Creative Loafing. "Because did you see how he sat down and got in my face? I knew my weapon was my camera."
Several patrons at the coffee shop sat down near her and bought her some tea.
"It was hard to tell what was happening from across the room, but it was clear the guy was harassing her," an unidentified witness recalled. "It was impressive how quickly the woman [defused] the situation, and it was reassuring to see people coming to her defense once they realized what was going on."
"There are several instances where people have done absolutely nothing at all but watch," Elhuni added. "But today people actually came and sat with me."
Creative Loafing reached out to Rob for comment via his Facebook page, but his page was subsequently deleted.
According to Elhuni, Rob contacted her through a third person about speaking to her, which she rejected:
My answer is hell no. Because I don’t think this is about dialogue, I think he’s trying to save himself because his name got out, his picture got out. And so I’m not going to dialogue with him, but I’m sure there are other Muslims who are willing to.
The coffee shop responded to the incident on Facebook:
There is a video floating around on Facebook of an encounter with one of our dear customers and a man saying horrible things to her. We DO NOT condone such behavior and are, frankly, disgusted by it. Joe's is a welcoming place, a SAFE space for people of all races, colors, and sex, ETC. If you are ever in our store and feel threatened or uncomfortable please tell a staff member. PLEASE remember to love people and show kindness always.