Catholic Iraqi refugee attacked, beaten in NM by man who thought she was Muslim

An Albuquerque woman was attacked in her home and her family's U.S. citizenship papers were torn up by a man who incorrectly believed that she was Muslim.

Albuquerque's KRQE Channel 13 reported that, ironically, the woman and her family are Catholic Iraqis who fled that country six years ago to escape religious persecution. They told KRQE that they never expected this to happen to them in their adopted homeland.

Around midday last week, Seham Jaber was home alone when the doorbell rang. Thinking it was her husband, she opened the door without looking, only to be attacked by a man wearing a mask and gloves. The man punched her face and body and shouted anti-Muslim epithets, she said.

“The irony is the individual thought the family was Muslim, and they’re actually refugees from Iraq who are Catholic,” said the Albuquerque Police Department's Simon Drobik.

The attacker demanded to know where the family kept its "money and gold." He then ransacked the house, taking money and jewelry. When he found the family's U.S. citizenship papers in a back room, he destroyed them in front of Jaber.

Jaber's husband found her semi-conscious on the apartment floor with injuries to her face, head, chest and abdomen.

“It’s disappointing that this still happens,” said Drobik to Channel 13. “These people came from a different country to get a better life in our country, and then for them to be victimized after that war-torn country, it’s pretty horrible.”

The family have only begun the process of trying to acquire new citizenship documents. They said they feel watched and unsafe in a way that echoes the threats and intimidation they experienced in Iraq.

The suspect remains at large. Police are looking for a tall white male of medium build with blue eyes. On the day of the attack, he wore a black mask that covered his features, a yellow shirt and blue jeans.

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