Hookah bar fight leads to Saudi Arabia vs. Iraq bias-motivated crime charge

All too often, we stupid Caucasian Americans look at Middle Easterners and assume they're all alike. But hatreds know no border in the region, with folks occasionally despising each other due to nationality, religious origin and more.

Which helps explain why Fahad Alqusumi, 21, and Majed Alnufaie, 29, have been charged with bias-motivated crime for an incident that took place on Monday at the Baghdad Café, a hookah bar. According to Denver District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough, "the victim related to the police that he believed the two who attacked him were from Saudi Arabia, and that they made very specific racially charged comments about him being from Iraq."

The probable cause statements about the Monday incident -- to read them, click here -- focus more on what happened rather than why, although there is a reference to "racial remarks." Here's the description from Alqusumi's arrest report, which is nearly identical to the one pertaining to Alnufaie.

The victim stated the defendants, Majed Alnufaie, 2-3-81, and Fahad Alqusumi, 6-25-88, approached the victim and began to make racial remarks at the victim. Alqusumi then began to physically assault the victim by pushing him. The victim tried to exit the building when Alnufaie also began to assault him, pushing him to the ground outside. Alqusumi then began to hit the victim with closed fists. The victim made a fist and went to punch Alqusumi back in an attempt to defend himself. Alnufaie pushed him from behind causing the victim to punch a wooden sign instead, injuring his hand. I observed blood running down the victim's right hand and the bone of his knuckle of his pinky finger protruding through the skin. The defendants were taken into custody without incident.

Bond has been set at $50,000 for both Alqusumi and Alnufaie; they're slated to be formally advised of the charges against them on Monday in Denver County Court. In the meantime, we're left to wonder: What chance is there for peace in the Middle East if Saudi Arabians and Iraqis can't even get along in a Denver hookah bar?

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts