It’s a development so surreal that you could easily mistake it for a satirical Onion headline as a commentary on how shockingly rampant the allegations of sexual abuse have been this year in the highest positions of power within politics and mainstream entertainment and news media.
But it’s no satire. Troubling allegations recently emerged against Linda Sarsour– incredibly enough– the inspiration behind and co-chair of the 2017 Women’s March on DC!
The Democratic political activist, who was described as a “champion of change” by the Obama White House, has been accused of sweeping multiple sexual assaults of one of her employees under the rug when she was the executive director of the Arab American Association.
The alleged victim, Asmi Fathelbab, says:
“[Sarsour] oversaw an environment unsafe and abusive to women. Women who put her on a pedestal for women’s rights and empowerment deserve to know how she really treats us.”
Her story was confirmed to the Daily Caller by three other sources familiar with what happened at Linda Sarsour’s Brooklyn office in 2009.
(Sarsour) oversaw an environment unsafe and abusive to women. Women who put her on a pedestal for women’s rights and empowerment deserve to know how she really treats us.Asmi Fathelbab
Fathelbab says her complaints were dismissed by Sarsour because the man she accused of assaulting her was a “good Muslim” who was “always at the Mosque.”
Asmi says a man named Majed Seif, who lived in the same building where the Arab American Association offices are located, began stalking and assaulting her:
“He would sneak up on me during times when no one was around, he would touch me, you could hear me scream at the top of my lungs. He would pin me against the wall and rub his crotch on me.”
Disturbingly, Asmi also claims that her alleged abuser would walk up behind her and rub his erection on her when she was bending down to talk to small children who she worked with in the association’s youth program:
“It was disgusting. I ran the youth program in the building and with that comes bending down and talking to small children. You have no idea what it was like to stand up and feel that behind you. I couldn’t scream because I didn’t want to scare the child in front of me. It left me shaking.”
In an account of her experience at the hands of Linda Sarsour that it seems could not get any more surreal, Asmi also says Sarsour body-shamed her when she brought the alleged assaults to Sarsour’s attention, telling her:
“Something like this didn’t happen to women who looked like me,” and threatening her: “She told me he had the right to sue me for false claims.”
Another source confirmed Asmi’s story, telling the Daily Caller: “They made it about her weight, saying she was not attractive enough to be harassed and then swept it under the rug.”
BuzzFeedNews interviewed both Sarsour and Asmi following the Daily Caller report, in order to give Linda Sarsour a chance to tell her side of the story. Sarsour says she’s dumbfounded by the Daily Caller report because Asmi never complained of any physical touching back in 2009, just that Seif made her “feel uncomfortable,” and also calls the body-shaming allegations a fabrication.
We may never know what really happened, but we should be troubled by the lack of mainstream and social media attention to this story given the seriousness of the accusations and the position of power and leadership held by the accused.