HomeCommunity IssuesMan makes Islamophobic remarks during SF prayer event

Man makes Islamophobic remarks during SF prayer event

San Francisco police are investigating an incident where a Muslim group gathered for a prayer at McLaren Park on Monday morning were subjected to verbal Islamophobic attacks by a man walking his two dogs.

The incident captured on video was posted on the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) San Francisco Bay Area‘s YouTube channel on Tuesday.

The incident occurred on 8:30 a.m. Monday during a celebration of Eid al-Adha hosted by the Islamic Center of San Francisco (ICSF). According to SFGATE, 50 or so people were coming together in the northern part of McLaren Park during that time, where prayer carpets and tarps were already set on the grass.

At the start of the video, the man tells the group “Your religion is full of hate”, and continued to spout even more Islamophobic remarks, such as “You a–hole! You come from a f-cked-up country!”. Shahbaz Shaikh, an ICSF board members, responded to the man by saying “I was born here, sir. Thank you. Enjoy the rest of your day.”. The man responded to Shaikh by saying “You are not welcome here, you c—-suckers! You’re devils. You’re a devil!” and proceeded to shout more obscenities before walking away.

Shaikh told ABC 7 News that “It took a while for me to register what was happening. That’s when the fear set in. That’s when the internal panic set in. I was worried about other people’s safety. My own safety. We don’t know this individual”.

During the video the man also told the group “I am going to put some pig grease here for you c—suckers!”, referencing the fact that Muslims don’t eat pork. Shaikh said “So there was purpose behind that statement. It didn’t just come out of nowhere. It was researched. It was targeted. And that’s made it more vile.”

Zahra Billoo, CAIR-SFBA’s Executive Director, said that “This kind of hate speech is unacceptable and must be condemned in the strongest terms. The Muslim community, like any other community, has the right to gather and worship in peace. Such incidents only serve to underscore the urgent need to address the rise in Islamophobia across our nation.”, in a statement on CAIR-SFBA’s website.

“This kind of hostility and ignorance is not only harmful to those directly targeted but also to the broader society as it fosters division and intolerance. We urge community leaders, public officials, and all people of conscience to stand with us in denouncing such acts of hate.”, continued Billoo.

Hala Hijazi, who serves on the San Francisco Police Community Advisory Board said, “So many people have called me. They are fearful especially cause it’s happening in a public space, out at a park”, in an interview with ABC 7 News. Hijazi also said that she reached out San Francisco Mayor London Breed and other officials about the attack and is disappointed that more city leaders haven’t condemned the attacks.

“And, so not to care about their safety, not to make a statement, or even acknowledge their fears, their anxiety, especially on a holiday, it just also shows us that sometimes that not all places of worship are equal”.

Elvin V., a practicing Muslim for 14 years, said that he was surprised by the verbal assault in an interview with SFGATE. “What he said is pretty much a script”, said Elvin. “If you watch other Islamophobes on YouTube, it’s the same thing. They say the same thing.”.

According to an email sent to SFGATE by the San Fransisco Police Department (SFPD), authorities received a report of someone making “verbal threats to a group” at 9:25 a.m. Monday near the site of the prayer. Paulina Henderson, a spokesperson for the SFPD, told SFGATE that “This is an active and open investigation”.

The incident also comes after a recent report by CAIR showed that the organization received 8,061 complaints nationwide in 2023, the highest number of complaints in the organizations 30-year history.

Anyone experiencing racism, aggression, or Islamophobia is urged to contact CAIR-SFBA’s Civil Rights Department at  (408) 986-9874 or visit bit.ly/cairsfbareport.

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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