Filmmaker Usama Alshaibi Viciously Assaulted In Hate Crime Attack
Iraqi-American filmmaker Usama Alshaibi was viciously attacked and beaten Saturday night in an apparent hate crime attack. While attempting to attend a party in Fairfield, Iowa — where he’s been residing with his wife Kristie since last summer — Alshaibi was repeatedly punched and kicked by a group of men spouting racial epithets.
Alshaibi was walking home by himself after midnight after having dinner with friend Manuel Tsingaris. Passing by one house out of which he heard loud noises, the filmmaker asked a woman standing outside where the party was going on.
When the woman told him the party was upstairs, Alshaibi attempted to enter whereupon he was asked what his name was. When he answered “Usama,” he was immediately punched in the face. Four young men then started calling Alshaibi a “sand nigger” and “Usama Bin Laden” while ferociously beating him. After falling to the ground, the men continued to kick him.
Eventually making his way to the parking lot of Family Video, the store manager called 911 and Alshaibi called his dinner friend Tsingaris to help him.
According to press reports, the Fairfield police are treating this incident as a hate crime. However, at this time, there is little to go on to find the assailants as Alshaibi was completely disoriented following the attack.
Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1969, Alshaibi spent his childhood both in his home country and in Iowa. For much of his adult life, he has lived in Chicago, Illinois where he has made dozens of acclaimed and controversial films, including the award-winning documentary Nice Bombs, about his and Kristie’s visit to his relatives in Iraq following the downfall of Saddam Hussein.
Most recently, Alshaibi has been working on a follow-up documentary called American Arab, which hopes to shed light on the frequently maligned and misunderstood Arab community in the U.S. The film is being produced through Chicago’s Kartemquin Films, which last year awarded Alshaibi their first ever Diversity Fellowship that is given to minority filmmakers. Kartemquin’s Executive Director, Justine Nagan, has issued a statement of support.
The Underground Film Journal has been a big supporter of Alshaibi’s for years and considers him one of our country’s most important filmmakers, so we are exceptionally saddened and sickened by this incident. In addition to American Arab, Alshaibi has also recently finished the fictional film Profane, which recently made its World Premiere at the Berlin Film Festival and will be making its U.S. Premiere at the Boston Underground Film Festival later this month. I hope to have a review up of Profane in the coming days.
Also, Alshaibi’s family have started a blog to help raise funds for his medical and legal bills.