ATLANTA — Community leaders held a rally in support of a Muslim Georgia State University student harassed at a local coffee shop.
Asma Elhuni, 39, is a Georgia State University political science graduate student and a legislative intern for State Rep. Brenda Lopez. She wear a hijab.
The rally comes after a taped encounter between Elhuni and Rob Koehler of Columbus, Georgia. As she sat at her laptop computer at Joe's East Atlanta Coffee Shop, Koehler began photographing Elhuni.
She said that at first she tried to ignore Koehler. When questioned, Koehler allegedly said derogatory words to Elhuni. He also asked if she had a green card.
Video of the incident sparked outrage.
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People who went to the rally at the East Atlanta Village Farmer's Market Sunday say the event was about defining East Atlanta, making sure people know they're not remaining silent in the face of what happened last month.
“I thank you from the bottom of my heart for putting this together, but our work is not done. Will you help me fight the good fight?” activist Asma Elhuni asked the crowd Sunday. “Know that rallies can't be the only thing we do. We need you to take real steps to protect marginalized communities.”
State Sen. Vincent Fort was among those supporting Elhuni.
“I think you have people who believe that bigotry is OK, and that's why it's important to have neighborhood folk to come out and say 'No, it's not OK,'” Fort told Channel 2’s Nicole Carr.
Fort attributed what happened to the political climate and the Trump administration's stance on immigration.
“That guy who abused this woman probably thought it was OK because we have a guy in the White House who sanctions it. Well, no, it's not OK and that's all the more reason we need to come together,” Fort said.
Elhuni is calling for more than rallies. She called for heightened awareness of deep-rooted social issues that she believes led to her encounter with this man.
“We would go and talk to our representatives and our senators and tell them, ‘not on our watch,’" Elhuni said.
Elhuni also called on city leaders Sunday to declare Atlanta a sanctuary city.
Cox Media Group