[There was a video here]

Majida and Adly Abumayaleh were just driving across their suburban Minneapolis-area neighborhood on a Friday night to get their teen son from a party. Until a self-appointed watchwoman, Nancy Kay Knoble, decided they might be agents of international jihad and grabbed a rifle.

“She said you are suspicious in this neighborhood. She told me open the window, open the window. We couldn’t do anything. I was frozen,” Majida—who wears a traditional hijab—told local TV station KARE-11:

Majida and Adly were not armed, they were not even outside of their car but Knoble, charging documents say, was pounding on their windows demanding them to get out of the car.

But the yelling wasn’t the scariest thing Knoble was doing according to the charges against her.

“She pulled the rifle and said open the window or I’ll shoot you guys,” Adly explained.

Adly said he didn’t want it to get worse so he did whatever she told him.

“She said get out of car, you need to prove your son is here and I said ok. I got out and she put the gun at my back and said walk to the house,” Adly explained.

At the house Majida and Adly’s son did come out and they said once Knoble saw that they really were the boy’s parents she backed off.

But the damage to this couple was done.

“I thought, I am going to die this night,” Majida said in tears.

Turned out Knoble’s rifle was a pellet gun, but that was small comfort to the Abumayalehs—and to county police, who arrested Knoble on three counts of assault and making terroristic threats:

A Nexis search turned up no prior criminal record for Knoble, though she has lost three court judgments to creditors totaling about $13,000 since 2010.

Police are sidestepping any questions of Knoble’s cultural biases, which angers the Abumayelah’s daughter, Mnar Muhawesh—an activist and journalist who’s taken her parents’ case to social media:

“I believe this has hate crime written all over it,” Muhawesh—who confirmed that her parents are Muslim Americans—told Gawker in an email:

I spoke with the reporter at KARE who covered the story and because the police are not investigating it as a hate crime, she could only say that it’s not being investigated as a hate crime in her report. But, in the interview which I was present in, she asked my parents ‘why do you believe you were targeted?’ So, she also suspected it could be racially or religiously motivated.

Muhawesh said her parents “have thankfully never really received any ill treatment before,” but they’re shaken by the confrontation with Knoble. “In millions of Americans’ minds, as we’re seeing, Muslims are dehumanized and are looked as ‘others’ and in turn are treated as suspect as if they themselves are ISIS or al Qaeda,” she added.

While Muhawesh’s news site posted information about her parents’ case to Facebook, visiting commenters did their best to confirm her thesis:

Contact the author at adam@gawker.com.
Public PGP key
PGP fingerprint: FD97 D50A DE57 3943 4534 1A49 FA8B 74B4 A7A0 07BE