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Filmmaker says 1st name ‘Usama’ led to beating

11 March 2011 General 8 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

By William Lee Tribune reporter

7:21 p.m. CST, March 7, 2011

He chronicled war-torn Iraq through the eyes of its citizens, but filmmaker Usama Alshaibi says he didn’t feel the sting of violence until he crashed a house party last weekend in the tiny Iowa town of Fairfield.

“Right when I walked in, somebody asked me my name. . .and I said, ‘My name is Usama.’ That’s when they started hitting me,” said Alshaibi, 41, who lived in Chicago for 16 years, and directed and starred in the acclaimed “Nice Bombs.”

One of four men punched Alshaibi in the face, knocking off his eyeglasses. Three others joined in, punching Alshaibi in the face and head, knocking him down, he said.

“I was pretty scared, and I felt like I had gotten myself in a bad situation,” Alshaibi said.

If the reason for the punch was unclear in those first seconds, Alshaibi said he knew when his attackers started calling him Osama bin Laden and racial slurs.

“I clearly remember the racial slurs. That stuck out,” he said. “It seemed like they were very angry and very hateful because of my name and because of who I was.”

A native of Iowa City, a college town six times bigger than Fairfield, Alshaibi said party hopping, sharing drink and joke with total strangers, was a tradition in his hometown. Because of this, he said he felt nothing amiss when the friendly woman standing outside the house with loud music seemingly gave him the all-clear to join the festivities.

“If they felt like I shouldn’t have been there, they could have called the cops. I wasn’t out to hurt anyone,” Alshaibi said.”I wasn’t trying to do anything but hang out with people.”

Alshaibi said his memory of the incident was foggy, not only because of the hard hits to his face but also because he and a friend had a few drinks before he ventured into the party. He said he briefly lost consciousness during the attack, which he believes lasted about 10 minutes.

Blood streaming down his face, Alshaibi said he managed to run out and call his friend from a nearby parking lot. The friend snapped a photo of a battered Alshaibi.

Police say they have driven Alshaibi around the neighborhood but haven’t yet found the site of the party. Fairfield Police Chief Julie Harvey said her department was investigating the incident as a hate crime and was canvassing the neighborhood.

Harvey said her officers know the area where they believe the attack happened, but have little evidence aside from Alshaibi’s injuries.

Alshaibi and his wife Kristie left Chicago last summer for Fairfield, a city of just under 10,000 people, for her studies and for a “different pace of life” as he finishes a second documentary, he said. The attack has Alshaibi considering moving again.

“I came here feeling this was a safe and good place to be. Now I don’t feel that,” he said. “I feel weird.”

Original post: Filmmaker says 1st name ‘Usama’ led to beating

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8 Comments »


  1. I’m sorry….but did the article say that he had been drinking? Drinking what?

    Not saying that his drinking should lead to him beating up for his name, but he should at least follow the Quranic prohibition on alcohol. Perhaps that would have given him a more clear mindset to determine if he should have gone into the house, uninvited….especially in areas where Arabic names incite fear and dread-up hatred.

    As a government employee with the last name “Muhammad“, I often encounter some people who, apparently, have issues with Muslim….or just those with Arabic names. The minute I give my last name, the mood of that conversation turns cold. I can’t imagine the look on their faces if we were face-to-face if I’d been standing their in front of them.

    And who knows? Perhaps the people who attack Usama had also been drinking. He walked into their house, introduces himself as “Osama/Usama” (sounds the same to some) and their ignorance causes them to act out their aggressions on him.

    I’m just saying: It’s best to be in the right at all times.

    May Allah guide us all.

  2. Nice, DeucePrez, blame the victim. You’ll fit right in.

  3. “A native of Iowa City, a college town six times bigger than Fairfield….”

    Is this supposed to be important? The clear insinuation here is that smaller towns are intrinsically more hateful than larger cities. This article is supposed to be CRITICAL of bigotry, isn’t it?

  4. This is quite disturbing. The attackers should be persecuted to the full extent of the law. But tell me…
    is there a FACEBOOK page with THOUSANDS of non-muslims high-fiving this despicable act? As when THOUSANDS of Muslims celebrate murders of non-muslims on FACEBOOK… as they did when the Punjabi governer was murdered for simply trying to make “blasphemy” laws more reasonable and humane?

  5. This is sad, but not surprising. We have many of these “people” in my city, as well.. and they don’t have to be drunk to beat you up. It’s only from Allah’s mercy that he is alive.

    GlenW, DuecePrez is correct, he is not blaming the victim but pointing out a fact. Muslims are strictly prohibited from intoxicants in all forms at all times. He should not have been drinking or partying with rowdy – and obviously dangerous – people.

  6. this man’s religion was never mentioned in the article. the issue of devout muslims not being able to drink is irrevelvant to this. it doesnt state anywhere in the article how strictly he follws islam or if he is muslim at all. the issue is americans inability to realize every dark skinned middle eastern is not a terrorist and a true tribiute to the common media depictions of islam in america. fox news does a great job showing you the terrible consequences of war and convincing america that all islam is to blame. we all need to learn to be a little more tolerant. if your gonna beat someones ass do it for more the just a name because that just makes you seem like a inconsiderate redneck.

  7. The Iowa legislature is considering a firearm bill similar to Alaska’s and Arizona’s which will permit purchase and carry–concealed or unconcealed–of firearms WITHOUT any permit or background check whatever. Can you imagine the possible outcome of this incident if that legislation were in place already?

  8. madge russell….what proposal are you talking about? please link, i’ve never heard of anyone calling for dropping backround checks? plus there may have already been guns in the house or being carried by someone. so are you implying they would have sure shoot him? iowa’s new gun law http://www.kcci.com/r/26082619/detail.html

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