The skater claims that the rink owner subjected her to numerous “racist and obscene taunts,” and yet “Ranis said the Aldahwis’ suit does not spell out where, when and to whom those alleged comments were made.”
Meanwhile, “Hyaat Aldahwi said her friends in the tight-knit skating community felt they had a choice: Lori Alf or her and her mother. They chose Lori Alf, she said.”
Why? Is Palm Beach Ice Works filled with nothing but racists and bigots? Was there no one who would stand up and denounce Alf’s supposedly boorish and obnoxious behavior?
That strains credulity. Is this yet another fake hate crime?
“EXCLUSIVE: Ice rink banned skater for Iraqi heritage, suit says,” by Wayne Washington, Palm Beach Post, January 13, 2017 (thanks to J.):
The Olympic dream of a Broward County ice skater has turned into an ugly dispute that has spawned a discrimination and defamation lawsuit against the West Palm Beach skating rink where she once practiced.
Angela Aldahwi, a dual citizen of both the United States and Iraq, has filed suit against Palm Beach Ice Works in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, alleging that her daughter, Hyaat Aldahwi, was barred from the rink in 2013 when its owner, Lori Alf, learned that the teenage skater is of Iraqi descent and hoped someday to skate for Iraq in the Olympic Games.
Aldahwi says Alf orchestrated a campaign to intimidate her and her daughter during competitions, shunned them from the tight-knit skating community and subjected them to racist and obscene taunts, including references to the Aldahwis as “towel heads.”
Alf, the suit claims, made comments to people in Hyaat’s peer group “to incite them to murder Hyaat and/or Angela Aldahwi, with comments about the Aldahwis being ‘ISIS’ and that they would ‘end up in a ditch someday,’ meaning dead along the side of a road.”
After the dispute became known, Alf hired a 6-foot-7 bodyguard to protect herself from what she told others could be an ISIS hit, the Aldahwis claim.
Alf, whose successful battle against cancer was detailed by The Palm Beach Post in June, denied the Aldahwis’ allegations, saying they are baseless.
“It’s extortion,” Alf said in a brief telephone interview. “I never spoke to them.”
Alf’s attorney, Paul Ranis, said: “We deny we ever said those things. We believe when the truth comes out, we will prevail on all the claims.”
Alf said Angela Aldahwi manages another rink in Pompano Beach, Glacier Ice and Snow Arena, and that that could be another reason for the lawsuit….
Ranis denied the Aldahwis’ account of why Hyaat was banned from the rink.
The Aldahwis said Hyaat was barred from the rink in January of 2013 after six months of training there without incident….
Everything seemed to be on track for Hyaat to pursue her Olympic dream, Angela Aldahwi said.
Then she and her husband gave their daughter a skating jacket for Christmas in 2012. The jacket had an embroidered picture of ice skates and the word “Iraq.”
“Immediately upon seeing the word ‘Iraq,’ Defendant Alf became belligerent toward the Aldahwis, and she announced that no skater would be allowed at the rink who was Iraqi,” the suit claims.
Things came to a head in January 2013, when, according to the suit, an employee of Palm Beach Ice Works called Angela Aldahwi.
“You and your daughter are no longer allowed at Ice Works,” the employee said. “You cannot train or participate in any activity.”
A second employee, joining the call by speaker phone, told Angela Aldahwi they were being banned because Hyaat Aldahwi hoped to skate for Iraq, according to the suit.
Being barred from the rink wasn’t just the loss of a place to skate, the Aldahwis said. It also meant losing access to Hyaat Aldahwi’s coach, who coached other skaters at the rink, one of whom was Lori Alf’s daughter.
Hyaat Aldahwi said she continued skating, competing at various events.
“The threats and abuse by the defandant continued,” the Aldahwis’ lawsuit states.
Hyatt, the suit claims, “experienced serious panic attacks, withdrawal, depression, lack of sleep, and loss of appetite.”
Her skating suffered, too
“Hyaat is now petrified to skate in front of the Alfs,” the suit states.
Meanwhile, others joined in taunting the Aldahwis.
At one point, the lawsuit claims, when Hyaat and her mother walked into a rink, “people stated, referring to the Aldahwis, ‘Look, here comes ISIS!’”
“The Aldahwis inquired as to what they were talking about, and they stated, ‘The Alfs told us about the lawsuit you have against them.’”
Ranis said the Aldahwis’ suit does not spell out where, when and to whom those alleged comments were made, points he has raised in his motion to dismiss the suit.
Hyaat Aldahwi said her friends in the tight-knit skating community felt they had a choice: Lori Alf or her and her mother. They chose Lori Alf, she said.
“When a former friend had a death in the family, Hyaat sent her a communication that expressed her condolences and included her name,” the lawsuit states. “The individual wrote back, ‘I do not know who this is.’”
Hyaat, now 18, said the experience was traumatic.
“I did lose a few friends over it,” she said. “No one wanted to talk about it. No one knew how to talk about it.”
Angela Aldahwi said she remembers telling her husband that their daughter had been banned from the rink.
“He said, ‘What did you do?’” Angela Aldahwi said. “I said, ‘We’re Iraqi. That’s what we did.’”
After a recent fall during a competition where the Aldahwis said Alf watched Hyaat while she was on the ice, Hyaat told her mother she no longer wanted to skate competitively. It’s been a decision her mother has struggled to accept….