NORTH MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — A Moroccan woman is clearing the air after concern was raised among some members of South Florida’s Jewish community who thought her appearance at a North Miami Beach synagogue was suspicious.
It happened last week and sparked an investigation by at least four different police agencies, after the woman and her mother attempted to visit the Jewish temple for information.
Nabila Ouakka and her mother Mamma Akhizz, who are of Muslim faith, say they came to the U.S. about 10 years ago. Suffering from terminal cancer, Nabilla stopped by the temple with her mother to find out about other religions. They also went to a church.
“I just wanted to say hello,” said Ouakka, who went by the North Miami Beach Police Department to explain about her visits to the temple last weekend.
The unannounced visits, however, worried some Jewish members after the women reportedly asked about services and pulled out a Koran, the Islamic holy book.
“I wanted to meet new friends and get in touch with my brothers and sisters,” Ouakka said. “As a person, I am sociable. I love people and love to be around people. My intentions were to get closer to my brothers and sisters.”
She said she was curious about attending services but was unsure of the times.
“I went there to get the Torah, the book,” she recalled. “I asked him where there were lectures. I thought they might have them on Saturdays. With Muslims we have them on Fridays.”
Ouakka said the folks at church were welcoming. “They were very nice to us. They said they loved us. I said, I love you.”
It was the kind of warm reception she was looking for during a rough period in her life. On top of being diagnosed with breast cancer, Ouakka is also going through a divorce.
“I have cancer. Terminal cancer. I was even involved with holistic medicine. I am going through a lot. Life is not easy,” Ouakka admitted.
Police said they were compelled to investigate but ultimately, no crime was committed.
“We got a report of a suspicious person. She is a human being. Her mother is a human being, as are the rest of us. After a thorough investigation, we determined they were not a threat to anybody,” said Major Rich Rand of the North Miami Beach Police.
Rabbi Yosef Marlow believes the authorities were justified in their investigation and says unannounced visits by strangers can be alarming.
“Common sense is that they would go through the proper channels and make an appointment before making an entrance of any sort,” said Rabbi Marlow.
Ouakka seems to not resent the investigation and was not aware of the stories about her because she doesn’t have a television.
“The problem is I don’t watch the news. I am a person who lives freely,” she added.
North Miami Beach Police Chief William Hernandez said people should speak out and be vigilant if they see something suspicious.
Miami Beach Police had a similar incident recently but don’t believe the same women were involved.