FAIRFIELD, Iowa (CBS) — A documentary-maker for a Chicago-based film production company says he was attacked in Iowa while making a film about the treatment of Arabs in the United States.
Usama Alshaibi says in multiple published reports that he was repeatedly punched and kicked by four men who hurled racial epithets at him after he wandered into a Fairfield, Iowa, house party uninvited.
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Police are treating the beating as a hate crime after officers found him with a bloody face.
Alshaibi tells the Des Moines Register that his first name and its resemblance to “Osama” were what sparked the beating.
Alshaibi, who was born in Baghdad but grew up in Iowa City, is currently producing a film called “American Arab” for Chicago-based Kartemquin Films, focusing on discrimination against Arabs in the United States.
Alshaibi, 41, first gained widespread recognition with the documentary “Nice Bombs,” for which he returned to his birthplace in Iraq. The documentary was released in theaters in 2007, and was broadcast on the Sundance Channel in 2008, according to Alshaibi’s Web site.
Alshaibi has also produced the dramatic feature “Muhammad and Jane,” more than 40 short films, and music videos. Together with his wife, he was also director of the now-defunct Z Film Festival, and hosted screenings of his films at the Odd Obsession video store’s old Halsted Street location.
He lived in Chicago for 16 years before moving back to Iowa last year, according to the Chicago Reader.
Police continue to search for Alshaibi’s assailants.