San Francisco Muslims attacked with hate speech at Eid holiday prayer

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
SF Muslims attacked with hate speech at Eid holiday prayer
Shahbaz Shaikh says he's never been involved in a hate incident growing up in San Francisco until this encounter during a Eid al-Adha prayer.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Shahbaz Shaikh says he's never been involved in a hate incident growing up in San Francisco until this encounter on Monday morning:

Unknown man: "You a******e! You come from a f***ed up country!"

Shaikh: "I was born here, sir. Thank you. Enjoy the rest of your day."

Unknown man: "You are not welcome here, you c***suckers! You're devils. You're a devil!"

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"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," explains Shaikh, who grew up in San Francisco.

It happened at McLaren Park as families gathered to pray and celebrate Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of Sacrifice. It's the most important holiday of the Islamic calendar.

He says the verbal assault was unprovoked.

Unknown man: "Why don't you go some f***ing other place, you a******e! F*** you all! I am going to put some pig grease here for you c***suckers!"

The pig reference likely because Muslims don't eat pork. Shaikh says the use of that kind of specific language is also a red flag.

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"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," suggests Shaikh.

"When I watched that video, what worried me most is what he might do next. When somebody is that comfortable spewing hate, what stops them from escalating to violence?" asks Zahra Billoo, the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of CAIR, or the Council on Islamic American Relations. It is the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the U.S.

Billoo says this year CAIR has seen the largest rise in anti-Muslim hate of the past 30 years. And what happened in San Francisco is just another example of it.

"It becomes socially acceptable for him to act that way. That's what we need to get to the bottom of," says Billoo. "It is not that jail time is always, or ever, necessarily the solution. Rather, what is the culture and tone that we are setting in our communities?"

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"So many people have called me. They are fearful especially cause it's happening in a public space, out at a park," says Hala Hijazi, who serves on the San Francisco Police Community Advisory Board.

Hijazi was involved in mobilizing the community when a different mosque in San Francisco was vandalized in April, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

She says reached out to the mayor and other officials to alert them of what happened. She is upset that more city leaders haven't condemned the attack.

"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," says Hijazi.

Shaikh filed a police report and says SFPD is investigating.

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