'No Muslims!' Woman arrested for anti-Muslim graffiti at concord shop

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- A woman is behind bars after admitting to spray painting anti-Muslim graffiti on the walls of a Muslim-owned business in Concord.

"No Muslims! Go away to Hell" is one of the messages sprayed on the side of International Market and Grill in the 440 block of Treat Boulevard.

"I was concerned. I was shocked to see something like this happen, especially in this beautiful community," says Omid Karbasi, who owns International Market and Grill.

The store specializes in Middle Eastern and South Asian groceries and its restaurant serves Afghan food.

Karbasi says he's never had any problems in the past, yet the recent mass shooting, such as at the Gilroy Garlic Festival raised his concerns-- especially concerns for his family.

I was worried about it. You never know, there was a lot of stuff happening especially over the last week all over the country," says Karbasi.

Concord police arrested Maria Disney, 58, a transient woman, who was identified from surveillance video.

Sergeant Carl Cruz with the Concord Police Department described Disney as a "career criminal," who confessed to the crime. He says she told police that she had an argument with a Muslim last week, and that's why she did.

Cruz adds that Disney was "aware and had all her faculties" when talking to police, and they do not believe that drugs or alcohol influenced her behavior.

Disney is being charged with vandalism and property damage but isn't being charged with a hate crime.

But the graffiti still has many Concord residents upset.

"I have never seen anything like that. It's disgusting," says Raya Johnson, who grew up in Concord. "We all want to be diverse here. We all want to live our lives. And just be regular human beings every day. And when you do things like that, it makes it so it's not possible."

Lori Shiffer owns Growing Pains Children's Resale Store, which is next door to Karbasi's store. She posted a picture of thegraffiti on Facebook, saying that she was "sickened and disgusted" with what she saw.

She wrote that she stands with her Muslim neighbor and that, "this kind of hatred will not be tolerated."

"I wanted to post something about it, that we would not be accepting that and not tolerating that. And be supportive of him," says Shiffer.

Zahra Billoo, the Executive Director of the Bay Area chapter of CAIR, says hate crimes and hate incidents against Muslims are on the rise, even here in the Bay Area.

"The Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting reminds us that white supremacy exists right here in our own backyard. And this graffiti is a sign that no community is immune from this violence right now," says Billoo. "I'm so frustrated that the stupidity of people, who are racist and willing to take action on it, is on display on our own neighborhoods and communities. The woman didn't even know how to spell 'Muslims' correctly. But she hated them enough to attack their businesses."

Mayor Carlyn Obringer says she reached out to Karbasi to assure him that he has the city's support.

She also doesn't want one incident to be reflective of the rest of Concord's residents.

She says the city has worked hard to build strong relationships with its Muslim community. Following the terrorist attacks at mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand earlier this year, Obringer says the city stepped up patrols around local mosques.

"We have two mosques in our community, and the Concord Police Department, every Friday during Ramadan, was stationed outside of the mosques to ensure extra protection and safety," says Obringer.

Back at his shop, Karbasi says business is bustling since Tuesday (when the graffiti was found) with people turning out as a show of support.

"This is where the community needs to come together, show some unity, show some love," says Makiz Dehbzi, Karbasi's niece.
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