NEW YORK: An unknown man threw acid at a Pakistani university student on Long Island, a suburb of New York City, disfiguring his face and destroying his life in an attack that activists want to be investigated as a hate crime against Muslims.
Nafiah Ikram, 21, and her mother were getting out of the car in front of the house on March 17 when the man ran up to her, poured a caustic liquid on her face and ran away. She was severely burned and almost blind.
Nafiah, who is studying medicine at Hofstra University and has plans to become a doctor, was rushed to the hospital by her mother, who also works there.
Her father, Sheikh Ikram, 50, said Nafiah was attacked on her way home from work.
“No, it is not a random attack, it is a planned attack,” said The New York Post, a widely circulated tabloid.
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder asked anyone with information to come forward and call, announcing a $ 10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
“This attack was a cruel and heinous crime and I am personally asking anyone with knowledge to come forward,” he said.
The attack left her hospitalized for 15 days, with severe burns on her face, eyes, neck and hands, according to the New York section of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights group.
“My entire life changed in a matter of five minutes,” said Nafiah in an interview with WCBS-TV. “We don’t realize what we have until this is over.”
She was almost blinded by the attack. “I can only see the colors, but that’s it,” she told WCBS. “I want to know, what is the reason? Like, what could I have done for someone? “
Nafiah is starting to speak again, but still has difficulty eating or drinking because the acid has burned his throat, his father said.
“She is very scared. My wife, she sleeps with her every night, ”Ikram, said the father.
“She can’t take a bath alone, she gets scared when the water gets in her face… so my wife has to go to the bathroom with her to bathe her. And both arms are burned, she can’t do anything. So it’s very, very painful. “
Nafiah struggles to see even a few meters ahead of her, and the family is praying that she will be able to regain her sight.
The family says they are shocked by the show of generosity and support from family and friends. Almost $ 300,000 was raised in donations to pay for medical expenses.
“We just want to thank everyone who really donated and we really want people to pray for her to heal and, most importantly, to pray for her eye. It doesn’t matter how much money there is in the world, but we need her health, ”said Ikram.
Ikram begged his daughter’s abuser to surrender before he hurt another person on Wednesday night.
“We just want to say, think about it … what did you do to my daughter. Please don’t do this to anyone else.
“We are just waiting for that person to be caught because we don’t want anyone else to be in that condition.”
In a statement, CAIR-New York Legal Director Ahmed Mohamed called for a hate crime investigation into the attack on Nafiah.
He said: “CAIR-NY is disturbed and shocked by the brutality of this crime and law enforcement must do everything to arrest the suspects. Our community deserves security. Amid the increase in hate crimes that engulf the state, it is important that this acid attack by an unknown individual is investigated as a possible hate crime.
“The family and the community in general must learn why this happened. The New York State Hate Crime Task Force is expected to assist local law enforcement as the search for suspects enters the second month.
“Nafiah and his family need the support of their community. We ask everyone to keep the family in their prayers and pray that Nafiah has a full recovery. “