A woman was told to put on a mask inside a Florida Walgreens. Instead she went on a racist and Islamophobic rant against other customers.

Sarah Al-Arshani
·4 min read
counter-protest muslims islamophobia
Protesters hold a signs at a rally in Seattle on June 10, 2017. Associated Press/Ted S. Warren
  • A woman unleashed an Islamophobic and racist rant on a group shopping at a Florida Walgreens.

  • The rant started after employees told the woman to wear a mask.

  • Instead, the woman turned her attention to a couple and their friend.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A New York couple stopped by a Walgreens while on vacation recently in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and were met with an Islamophobic and racist rant from a woman who refused an employee's request to wear a mask.

Videos uploaded on Facebook earlier this month by Nahla Ebaid, an Egyptian American, went viral. Ebaid told Insider that she and her husband and their friend Angie Elyamini were shopping in the store when the woman walked in maskless.

An employee asked the woman to put on a mask. She turned and focused her attention on the group.

"She rolls her eyes and looked at me and said, 'You know, I wish I was from your country so I don't have to wear the mask,'" Elyamini said.

A police report reviewed by Insider identified the woman as Lubyca Bozanich and said she spit on Ebaid's husband, Tamir Elhadad.

In the videos Ebaid posted, the woman can be heard calling Elyamini and Ebaid, who both wear a hijab, "ugly" and ridiculing how they're dressed.

"Why do you have clothes like that?" Bozanich says. She later adds: "You're ugly! No wonder people hate you! Israelis rule because you guys are ugly."

Ebaid said the women also yelled racial slurs at a Black employee and later at a Black police officer, alongside anti-Asian sentiments.

Elyamini said Bozanich had been staring at her from the moment she walked into the store.

"She was looking at me up and down, like, from top to bottom," Elyamini said. "I felt like I was targeted."

Ebaid said she started recording because she was worried. She said her intention had been to record what was happening for the police, not to put the video online.

Post by Nahla Ebaid.

In the videos, Bozanich can be seen calling the police while hurling racist remarks.

"There's Muslims here that are threatening me," she says.

An employee can be heard telling Bozanich: "Leave them alone. They're humans."

Bozanich responds: "No, they're not. They're Muslims."

The police showed up and arrested Bozanich. In a video, one officer asks her where she was originally from, and she says she's from Ukraine. The officer tells her, "Why don't you go back to Ukraine?"

As she's handcuffed, Bozanich can be heard pleading with the officers not to arrest her and saying she has Muslim friends. Elhadad can be heard saying he forgives her. But Elyamini and Ebaid said they weren't able to forgive the woman yet.

"I hate looking at the video. I hate watching the video. It really hurts me. I feel violated again, stripped out of my rights," Elyamini said.

Ebaid said that while it wasn't an easy decision to post the video, she wanted to send a message to Muslims that in situations like these they should stand up for themselves and call the police, and that they also have rights.

"I want people to learn about Islam and really know what Islam is about," Elyamini added. "At the same time, whoever's Muslim, don't be quiet for any of this. You need to stand up. You need to call the cops. You need to get your rights."

Omar Saleh, an attorney with the Council on American-Islamic Relations who has been helping Ebaid, said the couple didn't have plans to pursue legal charges. However, he added that Bozanich appeared to be a licensed psychotherapist and that they were looking at avenues to bring this concern up with any authorizing board because they feel she is not qualified to be assisting people.

A Google search turned up results for a therapy business linked to Bozanich.

"I think it's going to be important to contact the administrative boards responsible for issuing those licenses," Saleh said. "I think if she is a licensed therapist or a doctor or whatever professional licensure she holds, if we do find that out, I will advise Nahla to seek a complaint with that board for that conduct, because I don't want somebody like that treating people. That's one option, but I don't think it's going to go beyond that."

Ebaid added, "We need to protect the people from this woman."

Elyamini said the character the woman exhibited toward them "does not suit her profession at all."

Bozanich did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

While the incident was unsettling, Elyamini and Ebaid said they'd continue to wear their hijabs proudly.

"We're Muslim, and we're proud we're Muslim, and this is not going to change," Ebaid said. "We're not going to kick off our hijabs. We like it, and I'm not scared."

Walgreens did not immediately reply to Insider's email request for comment.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at salarshani@insider.com.

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