'Sometimes words can really hurt you': RCMP investigating alleged racist comments targeting child in Surrey
Warning: This story contains offensive language.
VANCOUVER -- RCMP are investigating disturbing allegations of racist comments made to a young child shopping with her family in Surrey on Sunday.
Mourad Koufaoui says he was at a Superstore near 76 Avenue and King George Boulevard with his wife and three young children, who were preparing for Ramadan, when one of his daughters was approached by a stranger while in an aisle.
Koufaoui alleges the man called his nine-year-old daughter Aliyah, who was wearing a hijab, “a (expletive) Muslim terrorist.”
Koufaoui took out his phone, and started recording the alleged suspect, who was wearing a “Keep America Great" hat.
“You’re a racist, both of you,” Koufaoui says on the video as he approaches the man and another man who appears to be standing with him.
At one point in the video, the man in the red hat, which is a hallmark of Donald Trump supporters, swats the father’s phone out of his hand.
“It’s a nine-year-old daughter wearing a hijab and you want to call her a terrorist?"
“That’s harassment of a little child,” Koufaoui states to the men.
Family speaks out about racism
Mourad Koufaoui, his wife Melissa White, and daughter Aliyah spoke to CTV News from their home in Surrey on Tuesday.
Koufaoui says he heard the man’s alleged comment to his daughter, and confronted him one-on-one before turning on the camera on his phone.
“I walked right up to him and asked him ‘did you just call my daughter that?’ He said ‘bring you your Allah, bring your Allah,’ then said ‘F your Allah,’” Koufaoui said.
“To face it firsthand I was shocked … I was shocked there were people out there that harbour that kind of hate.”
White says as an interracial couple with children the couple had expected some people could have questions about the family’s Muslim faith. Aliyah had only started wearing a hijab recently.
“We’re totally prepared to handle those conversations, but when there’s directed comments at my daughter at such a young age, especially so new to wearing a hijab it’s just very frustrating and it just makes us both very upset and angry,” White explained. “We just want to make it public so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Aliyah says the alleged comments have had an impact on her.
“I got sadder and sadder every time I heard that word,” Aliyah told CTV News about the incident.
“You should be brave. You shouldn’t be too scared because it’s just words. But sometimes words can really hurt you."
She says she is receiving lots of support from her Grade 4 classmates, and says the alleged comments won’t stop her from continue wearing her hijab.
Surrey RCMP confirm they are investigating and have identified a suspect, who is known to them.
“These kinds of comments are very upsetting. The family was very angered and upset by what happened. I’m sure that the public as well will be upset. We do want everyone to know we don’t tolerate these kinds of comments,” Sgt. Elenore Sturko with Surrey RCMP said Tuesday.
RCMP say officers are continuing to gather evidence, which includes speaking with witnesses and seizing video.
The family has been offered support from victim services.
Koufaoui, who posted video of the confrontation in the store on his Facebook page, says the family is grateful for the support from the community since sharing details about the incident online.
“We are just hoping justice will be served,” Koufaoui said.
The suspect is not in custody and no charges have been laid.