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Burqa-clad woman accused of being Isis supporter in Palmerston North mall in New Zealand


Auckland :A Muslim woman was abused and her husband punched in a Palmerston North mall by a man who mistook her burqa as a sign she supported Islamic State.
The woman, from Saudi Arabia, was sitting at a cafe in The Plaza with her two-year-old son when Mark Desmond Cosgrove approached her about 12.40pm on March 21.
He leaned towards her in a threatening manner and told her to go back to her own country, according to a police summary of facts presented when Cosgrove appeared in the Palmerston North District Court on Wednesday.
Cosgrove told the woman he was offended that she was wearing a burqa in a mall and that he had seen on the news that people like her wanted to “blow malls up”.
When the woman’s husband, a student at Massey University, arrived at the cafe and learned what had happened, he confronted Cosgrove who remained nearby.
Cosgrove punched him.
Defence lawyer Daniel Flinn said Cosgrove maintained he pushed the man, but had agreed to the summary of facts to resolve the matter.
“He had been watching the news and was concerned about the activities of Isis,” Flinn said.
While Cosgrove understood not all Muslims supported Isis he thought the woman in the cafe did because of a white stripe on her burqa.
“He accepts that what he did was wrong,”
The couple, from Saudi Arabia, had been in New Zealand for four years. Judge Gregory Ross said the woman’s husband was a high-achiever, studying towards a masters in his field on a grant from the Saudi government.
The effect of Cosgrove’s abuse had been significant and the couple now felt less welcome in New Zealand, the judge said.
“They have every right to be here in this country without the kind of criticism that you have rather ignorantly made of them in a public place.”
Cosgrove’s concerns about Isis were “understandable” but they did not justify his actions.
He was fined $400 for the abusive language and $250 for assault.

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