RESTON, Va. - A video showing an unidentified white woman telling a Muslim shopper, "I wish they didn't let you in the country," has gone viral, but the woman seen in the video tells FOX 5 there's more to the story. The cell phone video was recorded Saturday at a Trader Joe's in northern Virginia, and it was posted on Facebook by a South Carolina-based comedian who says the Muslim woman involved in the incident is his friend.
Comedian Jeremy McLellan posted the video on Facebook just before midnight on Saturday. McLellan's friend wants to remain anonymous for fear of backlash. In the Facebook post, he says his friend let the other woman cut in front of her in the checkout line because she was in a hurry. It was at that point, McLellan says, that the woman “started talking bad” about another Muslim woman in the store, who was wearing a niqab, which is a type of head covering. McLellan says the woman then asked his Muslim friend why she didn’t cover as well, and his friend replied that it was a choice.
“The woman didn’t believe her and started talking about FGM (female genital mutilation) and telling her “I wish they didn’t let you in the country,” he wrote in the Facebook post. At that point, he told FOX 5 his friend pulled out her phone and started recording.
In the seconds that followed, the white woman tells the Muslim woman, "I wish they didn't let you in the country," and goes on to say, “Obama’s not in office anymore. We don’t have a Muslim in there anymore," adding that the former President might be in jail in the future.
McLellan told FOX 5 he shared the video because this is not an isolated incident.
"I wanted people to know that it has happened," he said in an interview Monday. "I have a lot of Muslim friends, and they experience these types of things quite often. And whenever they tell people, people don't believe it or they come up with excuses, or they come up with some sort of scenario where they are exaggerating it-- like this is not a really big problem that is going on."
But the woman seen in the video making those statements tells a different story. She called FOX 5 on Monday and talked to reporter Anjali Hemphill over the phone, but would not give her name or allow the interview to be recorded.
The woman told FOX 5 she is extremely upset because the video was taken out of context, and it does not show what led up to the portion of the encounter that's now gone viral. She claims the Muslim woman on the other side of the camera actually ambushed her, making "strong statements" about the U.S., like that it's full of murderers and rapists. She says that happened before the recording started, and the conversation escalated from there.
The woman told FOX 5 she's now seeking legal representation, and she and her family are receiving threats as a result of the video.
By Monday afternoon, the original video posted by McLellan had been shared with over 50,000 people on Facebook alone.
Here’s what is seen in the video: (App users: click here to watch)
The unidentified shopper is seen wearing black loafers and jeans, and when the video begins, she says, “So you play dumb, and then you say everybody’s— okay. I got it.”
There’s a pause, and then the woman identified as McLellan’s friend, behind the camera, says, “I shouldn’t have let you in front of me.”
“I wish they didn’t let you in the country,” the unidentified woman counters.
“Excuse me?” McLellan’s friend responds. “I was born here.”
“Oh, you were?” the woman responds.
After another long pause, the woman says, “Obama’s not in office anymore. We don’t have a Muslim in there anymore.”
“Yeah, I wish he was,” the Muslim woman says.
“He’s gone. He’s gone,” the woman says, smiling. “He may be in jail, too, in the future,” she adds as she glances down in the direction of the camera briefly.
“You look a little crazy. Maybe you need to get some help,” McLellan’s friend responds.
“Oh I’m fine,” the woman says.
“No, you’re not,” McLellan’s friend counters. “Because you don’t just strike up a conversation with people in line talking about stuff like that if you’re normal.”
Laughing, the woman responds, “I’m very normal.”
“Yeah, looks like it. I can tell,” McLellan’s friend says.
“What set you off? Obama?” the woman says, opening her purse, says before the video stops.