Amsterdam store ‘banned victims of anti-LGBT assault’

A group of LGBT Syrian refugees have claimed they were thrown out of a fashion store in Amsterdam city centre after being subjected to a homophobic assault by another customer.

One of the group of five, Tarek Almolki, told Het Parool that security staff at Zara failed to intervene when a man, described as in his mid-twenties and of Turkish or Moroccan origin, overhead them speaking intimately in Arabic and started verbally abusing them.

‘We were bad Muslims and deserved to die because we were gay and transgender. He shouted ‘Allahu akbar!’ repeatedly across the store.’

Almolki said the five friends were regular customers at the store on Nieuwendijk, but security guards stood by as the man verbally abused and manhandled them.

‘They did nothing to protect us and laughed at us,’ he told the newspaper. ‘The man tried to attack us several times, spat in our faces and shouted that he was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and he would kill us. Nobody did anything.’

The man punched another member of the group, identified only as E., when he realised she was transgender, and tore her dress off her back, Almolki said: ‘He screamed that she was a ‘kafir’, an infidel who ought to die.’

Security staff ushered the group out of the building and they were later told they had been banned from the store for a year, or risk being reported to police for breach of the peace.

E. said: ‘I’m 42 years old and gay and feel very comfortable about it. I come from Syria and have lived for 13 years in the Gulf states, but I’ve never experienced anything as dreadful as this.’ She has reported the incident to the police.

A spokeswoman for Zara’s parent company, Inditex, told Het Parool that there had been a dispute in the store but would not comment further on the allegations.

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