Bay-area restauranteur Zareen Khan is turning a bad experience with racism into good. After experiencing an incident of harassment and Islamaphobia, Khan announced on Instagram and Facebook that proceeds from all sales in her restaurants will be donated to the ACLU to protect immigrant rights.
Khan is the owner of Zareen’s, serving up Pakistani-Indian food in Palo Alto and Mountain View near San Francisco She was in a restaurant in Sunnyvale when a man kept staring at her, and then followed her to the bathroom. When she came back out, the man asked her, “where are you from?”
“I said Pakistan,” Khan said, recounting the experience to ABC7 News, “and he’s like, ‘Are you Muslim?’ I said yes. And then after that, he just turned around and whispered, ‘Terrorist, terrorist’ to me a couple times.”
At first, Khan debated whether or not to talk to news media about the incident. She didn’t want to draw more attention to herself or her family for fear of jeopardizing their safety. But she couldn’t ignore the rising Islamaphobia and racism that she’s seeing in the Bay Area.
“Islamophobia is not solely experienced in confrontational events like this one. It has woven itself into the daily lives of every Muslim,” Khan told Palo Alto Online. “For example, in the morning I have to decide if I will wear a traditional outfit or a safer, more conventionally American outfit. When I get into an Uber and am asked where I am from, is it safe to tell the truth?”
Khan wrote on social media that as ugly as her experience was, there are others who are facing far worse at the hands of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). “After experiencing just a modicum of the ignorance they face daily, I have come to a decision. Both Zareen’s locations will now be donating a portion of all sales to the ACLU, an organization which defends immigrant rights.”
“To date, 3,000 children have been separated from their parents by ICE and conditions in the detention centers are so bad that 24 people have died,” Khan wrote.
“This is unacceptable. Our country was built and continues to be built on the backs of immigrants and refugees, they must be protected. Never again, is now.”
Khan said she’ll donate up to $5,000 a year for the next few years to the ACLU, according to ABC7 News.
“Wherever that racist man is now,” Khan said in her social media post, “I hope he knows that thanks in part to his bigotry, more immigrants will be getting the resources and respect they deserve.”
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