"She was cursing at me for my outfit, and how I smell bad, and for using my language in front of her face," Rabia Zamir told Narcity.
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A now-viral TikTok video shows Port Perry locals defending a Pakistani-Canadian woman and her family against a racist attacker in a park.
On August 17, Durham-based banker Rabia Zamir posted a disturbing three-minute to her TikTok page, documenting what happened to her on the evening of August 15. The video, which has over 7.3 million views, shows a woman shouting racist slurs at her, her family members, and other South Asian people at the park.
In a press release issued on September 2, Durham Regional Police Service confirmed that the woman, 61, was charged with causing a disturbance. The North Division was able to identify the woman after the incident was posted on social media.
Zamir spoke to Narcity about the incident, which she said left her overwhelmed and in tears — some of which were, surprisingly, tears of joy.
Zamir said she was taking a relaxing stroll with her family on a walking path along the water when a woman on a mobility scooter zoomed past her. The woman began loudly shouting at Zamir for wearing a kurta, a loose-fitting South Asian tunic her mother got her from Pakistan.
"She was cursing at me for my outfit, and how I smell bad, and for using my language in front of her face," Zamir told Narcity. "She told me I shouldn't be in her path."
The family tried to ignore the woman, but she repeatedly drove dangerously close to Zamir, who is eight months pregnant and was walking with her 18-month-old daughter.
"At this point, I was like... This is scary. I'm super close to the water. I know what happened in London," Zamir said, recalling the racist attack that killed a Pakistani family in London, Ontario in June this year. "I didn't want her to run into me and my daughter because she was driving right into us. So I started to record just for our safety."
In the video, you can hear the woman shouting at Zamir, telling her to get out of her path and stop speaking her language. "I'm the Canadian here. I'll speak my language, but f**k you and yours!" she yells, driving in circles around the family.
The woman can be seen parking her scooter in front of Zamir's husband — who is holding his daughter — and cursing him out. "Not in front of my daughter, man! Chill out!," Zamir can be heard telling her. "Don't swear in front of my daughter."
"My daughter is 18 months old. She's at that age where she repeats everything she hears," Zamir told Narcity over a phone call.
Park visitors stepped in to protect the family
The commotion led park visitors to crowd together to protect the family. "The people there stood in front of me and my family and kind of formed a line," Zamir said, "They tried to block her. She had started driving super close to us."
One bystander can be heard telling the woman "goodbye" repeatedly in the video, to which she responds in fury: "You goodbye! I don't have to goodbye. You don't pay for s**t yet. You don't even live here. So f**k you!"
Rabia Zamir with her daughter and husband.Courtesy of Rabia Zamir
"She did not seem scared of much," Zamir said. "She started to enjoy the attention and that's when we were like, forget it. She's just, you know, getting her moment."
Police confirmed in the news release that eye-witnesses called them to report the woman on August 15 at 7 p.m. "When police arrived, both the female suspect and victims had left the area," they reported.
When the ordeal was over, bystanders came to comfort Zamir. "I actually broke into tears when that happened," Zamir said. "All these girls were complimenting me on my outfit and telling me that it was pretty."
"I didn't cry because I was sad or scared, I cried out because I didn't expect people to be so kind. I was so overwhelmed by joy," she said, mentioning that those around her gave her "air hugs" instead of physical ones due to COVID-19. "Everyone said I should wear whatever the heck I want and not be worried about people like this."
Luckily, Zamir says, she has received only supportive messages in response to her TikTok video. "People are apologizing for her behaviour and are ashamed of what happened. People from Port Perry and around the world are messaging to see if my family and I are okay," she told Narcity.
The most-liked comment on her TikTok calls for local businesses to ban the woman in the video from patronage.
"It was so good to see everyone come together. I think it was a blessing in disguise because, had the local community not stood up, I would've probably gone overly worried and insecure about representing my cultural clothes in public out of fear of hate crimes," she told Narcity. "However, due to how positively it played out, I will continue to embrace [it], regardless of what people think!"