Witness: Lady in burka struggled with police at Obama rally

Posted at 7:00 PM, May 07, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-07 19:47:06-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) The Secret Service continues to investigate after a woman, wearing a black burka, was removed from President's Obama’s weekend rally at the Siegel Center.

It appears the woman is wearing a black burka. It is unclear if she was only wearing a niqab (face veil) and a hijab (head scarf).

Several of the people in attendance, who videotaped or witnessed the removal, sat down with us today, to help us sort out why this woman was kicked-out of the campaign rally.

The disturbance came five minutes into his address, say witnesses.

"I don't know what she could have done to warrant such, rough treatment,” said Lyla Abi-Saab, the VCU student who witnessed removal.

Lyla Abi-Saab is a VCU junior sitting in the back row of the Siegel Center while a young woman in a black burka was removed 'forcibly,’ and without a clear explanation, according to Abi-Saab.

"It's important to protect everyone in the room and to protect the president,” she said. “Safety is important.”

“But you know, human dignity is also important, and people in power need to keep that in mind and keep their own prejudices in check,” she added.

It is difficult to discern what the lady is screaming as she is escorted out by Richmond Police.

"See, you can't really tell what she was saying,” said VCU journalism professor Vivian Medina-Messner, who captured the video.

She saw the situation begin to unfold.

"I was shooting the video of the rally, and then I heard someone scream in the background,” said Medina-Messner. “And she was really, really loud.”

“She seemed really, really upset,” she said. “I have no idea what language she speaks, and I couldn't understand what she was saying."

Medina-Messner describes a brief 'struggle' with VCU police before the woman is escorted out.

The VCU police department referred us to the Secret Service, the agency now handling the investigation.

Calls to the Secret Service have not been returned.

There was some speculation that the woman removed could have been screaming the word, 'Allah', and then 'Obama,' but Medina-Messner said that's not what she heard.

Original story here: Woman in burka removed from Obama VCU rally.