One month later, Muslim man attacked in Philly awaits justice

Charles Mostoller

Imagine if you got knocked out cold and sustained a concussion on a busy night in Center City.

Now imagine that four weeks later, the people responsible still haven’t been caught.

Moroccan immigrant, 34-year-old Amine Aouam, claims he’s in that frustrating situation. Aouam said he is still suffering headaches from a sucker punch last month at Broad and Sansom streets that left him with a concussion and hefty hospital bills.

“Ineed justice,” Aouam, who believes he was the victim of a hate crime, told Metro. “It’s up to the police.”

However, police said they found no surveillance video of the attack on Aouam, which allegedly occurred just after midnight on January 16 as he and a friend were walking back from a bar.

RELATED:Muslim man says he was beat in Philadelphia attack for speaking Arabic

As Aouam describes the incident, it all started when he and his friend began speaking Arabic. Their conversation caught the attention of a nearby group of men and women, Aouam said.

Aouam said that when he noticed one of the women staring at him and his friend, he said “Good evening” toher in Arabic, and was then confronted by male members of the group. He said the last thing he remembers isapologizing and explaining himself.

His friendYoussef Amarouchsaid he saw Aouam sucker-punched from behind and get knocked out cold when his head hit the pavement. He was treated at Jefferson University Hospital.

But nearby surveillance cameras for blocks arounddid not catch the attack or suspects, said Lt. Patrick Dougherty of the police department’sCentral Detectives Division.

“I was shocked that we didn’t get video on this,” Dougherty said.”There’s cameras right there, but it didn’t pick it up.”

Dougherty said the investigation is ongoing, but cautioned that it may not technically be a hate crime.

“I don’tbelieve it was a hate crime because I think both parties involved were drunk. I think if anyone said something to that girl, that guy would have punched him,” Dougherty said.”That doesnt give somebody the right to hit somebody… He didn’t deserve to get hit like that.”

But Aouam and Amarouch both told Metro it was the language they were speaking that precipitated the attack.

“They need some more evidence to make it as a hate crime,” Aouam said. “Let’s sayit’s not a hate crime.I see no progress on the case, zero progress on the case.”

In the meantime, Aouam said he has reached to Muslim and Arab advocacy groups for support, and is attempting to get victims compensation to help cover his still-mounting medical bills.

“They want me to catch the guy and bring him to them and then they’re going tomake some progress,” he said. “If it was me that was a criminal, they would find me right away.”

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