Muslim Archives - StoryCorps

‘Sometimes Humanity Is What We Need’: Two Women Reflect On Their Unlikely Friendship

One night, in October 2015, Asma Jama went out for dinner with her family at an Applebee’s restaurant in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Asma, who is Somali American and Muslim, was wearing a hijab, as she always does.

While Asma was talking with her cousin in Swahili, a woman named Jodie Bruchard-Risch, who was seated nearby, told her to speak English or go back to her country. When Asma responded to say that she was a U.S. citizen, the woman smashed a beer mug across Asma’s face. Asma was then rushed to the hospital and required 17 stitches in her face, hands and chest.

Jodie Bruchard-Risch pleaded guilty to felony assault charges and served time in jail for the crime. Jodie’s sister, Dawn Sahr, spoke out publicly against the attack and reached out to Asma.

In 2016, Asma and Dawn met for the first time at their StoryCorps interview. Since then, they’ve remained friends and recently came back for a second recording to tell us how they’re doing now.

They were also featured on the StoryCorps podcast, where you can hear more. 

Top photo: Dawn Sahr with Asma Jama in 2016, when they met for the first time at their StoryCorps interview in Minneapolis, MN. By Roselyn Almonte for StoryCorps.

Originally aired December 27, 2019, on NPR’s Morning Edition.